By D. Lyon Pahs
An to the and of
By Reginald D. Manweli
and Sophia Lyon Fahs
Behind every church, whether it be our
own or the one " across the street,' 1 there Is a
story of triumph and sometimes of tragedy,
of men and women who dared to break with
tradition or to resist change. This book tells
the dramatic history of many different reli-
gious groups and of the pioneers who blazed
the way for their establishment; it ranges
from the best-known Protestant denomina-
tions to the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Written in a clear, entertaining 1 style, it is
intended primarily for the young person of
junior high school and senior high school age
, who wonders about the why's and where-
fore's of his own and others' religious beliefs
and practices ; many adults will also find *
this comprehensive approach informative
The first edition of The Church Across the "
Street has been widely acclaimed by leaders
in religious education. Itfow it is completely
updated and revised and contains entirely
new chapters on the Disciples of Christ and
the United Church of Canada. Numerous
illustrations enliven the book and depict the
important moments and the dynamic per-
sonalities that have affected church history.
An enriching experience awaits the young
reader of this book, for here his questions
about other faiths are answered and the reli-
gious events and people of the past are made
real for him.
A separate adult guide is available (50^).
^G :29ca 64-'"T;77
la nws 11
he church across the street
ne church across the street
The Church Across the Street
Across the Street
Reginald D. Manwell
Sophia Lyon Fahs
An Introduction to the Ways and
Beliefs of Fifteen Different Faiths
BEACON PRESS BOSTON
Copyright 1947 by Beacon Press; revised edition copyright
1962 by Beacon Press
All rights reserved
Published simultaneously in Canada by
S. J. Reginald Saunders and Co., Ltd., Toronto
Library of Congress catalog card number: 62-13635
Printed in the United States of America
"Many years ago, sometime during the middle of the
twentieth century . . ."
In this manner one of our descendants may begin writing
of the times In which we now live. No doubt our times will
seem as unreal to them as much of history now seems to us, yet
the people who lived one or twenty centuries ago were real
people like us. In spite of their strangeness of dress and
customs, they looked, acted and felt much as we do. They
helped to make the world we live in what it Is, whether for
good or for ill, just as we are making a world In which those
who shall come after us must live. Looked at In this way,
events and people of the past become as interesting and as
vivid as current happenings and people in today's news.
Fiction is not more fascinating.
The story of how the many different kinds of churches
came to be is one of these true-to-life dramas. It is a saga of
twenty centuries of tragedy and triumph. It Is the tale of real
men and women who had the insight and the daring to break
with the traditions of their day and to venture forth along
untrodden and dangerous paths. It Is the story also of other
real people who resisted change and who tried to perpetuate
the old ways by destroying the books and the men that
urged the reforms.
Our own church or denomination, whatever It may be,
can be truly appreciated only when we understand how and
why It came to be. Its significance in the society of today can
be tested only when we have compared and judged the worth
of that for which it stands alongside the worth of other
churches that differ from it.
Most of us are very limited in our outlook and in our
friendships. Our little worlds are much smaller than they
need to be. How much more interesting our conversations
with our friends in other churches might be if we knew
vi The Church Across the Street
enough to talk about the ways In which we differ, and if we
understood how our several customs were first brought about!
Intelligent understanding helps not only to keep old friends;
it helps also in making new ones.
Many people yearn to travel widely about the world to
gain an expanded outlook, sometimes without first becoming
acquainted with the picturesque world that is almost on their
doorsteps. They may make great sacrifices to see Palestine, and
at the same time never attend a service in the Jewish synagogue
only a few blocks away from their home. Visitors to France
are often stirred by the ritual and music in the Russian Ortho-
dox Cathedral in Paris, yet it may never have occurred to them
that the same great choral music and the same kind of incense
are offered in worship to the Creator in hundreds of Russian
Orthodox churches in America.
Whether we live in large cities or in small towns, we may
be sure that our churches are full of dramatic stories of the
long ago. These stories lie hidden in stained-glass windows, in
stone sculpture, in robes worn by priests or ministers, in ritual
and music, and in the gospel message that is proclaimed. The
stories are about us in abundance. They are being enacted
over and over week by week. This book is written to help you
know how to read these stories.
How many different kinds of churches can you name?
Believe it or not, there are more than 250 different Protestant
denominations in this country. Look it up in the federal census
if you doubt it. There are some twenty-five kinds of Baptists
and twenty kinds of Lutherans and ten kinds of Presbyterians!
A few of these have recently merged, or are in the process of
doing so, but not infrequently new religious groups are or-
ganized. There's a reason for every one, yet strangely enough
many people belonging to these churches have no idea why
they are different.
The leaders of the Protestant Christian churches of the
world, after years of agitation and persuasion, have recently
succeeded in uniting most of the denominations into one great
World Council of Churches, which now includes 197 different
religious bodies in sixty countries. To this Council even the
Eastern Orthodox Church of Russia has just been admitted.
Yet some large Protestant groups still remain outside, and
some Indeed militantly oppose such union. In the United
States thirty-three of the denominations, including nearly all
the larger ones, have united to form the National Council of
Churches. Yet how can we hope for a united mankind (with-
out which peace among the races and nations Is hardly pos-
sible), if churches believing In the brotherhood of man cannot
In this book we have written stories of different kinds of
religious bodies. We have included some of the best-known
Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholics and the
Jewish synagogues. We should like to have told of many more.
The Adventists, for instance, who number almost three-
quarters of a million and whose medical and humanitarian
work in the remote corners of the world surpasses that of most
other Protestant denominations, we have passed by with great
reluctance; so it is also with a number of other Interesting
groups. On the other hand, we have included three rather
small denominations the Friends, the Unitarians and the
Universalists because it seemed to us that their significance
far outweighs their numbers.
We warn those about to read this book against expecting
to find in it an adequate history of any of the various religious
groups considered. This is not a church history. It is merely
an introduction to the larger study. In order to dramatize the
issues at stake, we have centered the story of each denomina-
tion around a single pioneer who played an important part,
but not necessarily a major part, in the establishment of the
new church. In addition, we have given briefly a few of the
most important or interesting facts regarding the present ac-
tivities and beliefs of the groups chosen.
Instead of satisfying curiosities, we hope the book will
arouse appetites for more understanding. When we hear a new
church mentioned or see a "church across the street" with an
unfamiliar name, let us accustom ourselves to ask: "Why is it
here? What does it stand for? What is its story?"
REGINALD D. MAN WELL
SOPHIA L. FAHS
In writing this book, the authors have been fortunate in
being given the generous help of a number of notable scholars
in Church history. We wish to express our great Indebtedness
to them all, for without their help the book would have failed
In its purpose. At the same time we desire to free these friends
of ours of all responsibility for any errors or lack of insight
that may have crept into the waiting of the book in spite of
their scrutiny and their criticisms.
Merely to list their names suggests the richness of fellow-
ship we have enjoyed. DR. CHARLES LYTTLE,, Professor of
Church History, Meadville Theological Seminary, and DR.
MAX A. KAPP of St. Lawrence Theological School both "read
the entire first draft of the manuscript and made criticisms.
Other professors have examined certain chapters when these
were near their final form. PROF. WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE of
Union Theological Seminary criticized the chapter on the
Episcopalians. DR. ROBERT NICHOLS of the same Seminary
read the chapter on the Presbyterians. PROF. ALFRED S. COLE,
School of Religion of Tufts College and DR. CLINTON LEE
SCOTT criticized the Universalist chapter. DR. FREDERICK MAY
ELIOT,, President of the American Unitarian Association, ex-
amined the chapter on the Unitarians. DR. JAMES R. JOY,
Director of the Methodist Historical Society, criticized the
Methodist chapter and furnished us with two photographs for
it. DR. WILLIAM W. ROCKWELL,, Professor (Emeritus) of
Church History, Union Theological Seminary, gave many
hours of painstaking, critical work on the chapters about the
Lutherans, the Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox
Churches, and the Congregationallsts.
Miss MARGUERITTE HALLOWELL, Office Secretary of the
Philadelphia Meeting of Friends, criticized the chapter on the
Friends. WILIAM D. K. KILPATRICK, Manager of Publications
of the Church of Christ, Scientist, made valuable suggestions
regarding the chapter on that church, and furnished us with
two photographs. DR. LE Roi C. SNOW,, Church Historian for
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, kindly sent us
the two illustrations used for the chapter about that church.
MR. JOSHUA LIEBERMAN,, a liberal Jew of wide reading, helped
with the writing of the chapter on the Jewish Synagogue, as
did also RABBI H. PANITZ of Syracuse.
We are grateful also to all those who furnished us with
The two authors of the book have shared almost equally
the labor involved in writing all the chapters except the first,
which is of an introductory nature. For this SOPHIA L. FAHS is
Because of our desire to keep the book uncluttered with
footnotes and with a long bibliography, we have not often
given the sources of facts. Throughout our labor, however, we
have been profoundly grateful for the written treasures made
available to us through the painstaking work of many histori-
During the years which have passed since the appearance
of the first edition of this book it has benefited from the criti-
cisms of many readers and friends throughout the country; to
all of them the authors wish to express thanks.
Whatever virtues the book may have are in no small
degree due to critics who have read with a kindly eye chapters
of the manuscript dealing with various churches and offered
suggestions, many of which have been incorporated into the
text. Among them are Dr. Joseph B. Long, Secretary of the
United Church of Canada, who not only read the chapter
dealing with this great Church but put into the hands of the
senior author much material not otherwise obtainable, and
Dr. Joseph Smith, Professor of Church History at the Christian
Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, who with several of
his colleagues read the chapter dealing with the Disciples of
Christ. Others who read new portions of the text dealing with
their respective denominations include: Dr. Charles C. Noble,
Dean of Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University (Methodist);
xl The Church Across the Street
Rev. Paul F. Bosch of the Hendrtcks Chapel Staff (Lutheran);
Rev. Richard F. Manwell (Congregational), minister of the
First United Church of Christ In Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
Numerous others have been most cooperative in furnishing
needed Information, among them the Office of the First Presi-
dency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints In Salt
Lake City, Utah, and Archbishop William H. Francis, of the
Old Catholic Church, Woodstock, N. Y. The authors are
grateful to all of them.
1. The Beginning
The Old Story of Salvation 1
A Spiritual Monarchy Founded, Then Divided . 10
2. Martin Luther 1483-1546
"Here I Stand...!" 16
The Lutherans in America 31
3. John Calvin 1509-1564
The Ruler of "A City of God" on Earth 37
The Presbyterians 47
4. Michael Servetus 1511-1553
He Tried to Reform the Reformers 55
The Unitarians 65
5. Ignatius Loyola 1491-1556
"Onward, Christian Soldier!" 75
The Roman Catholic Church 88
The Eastern Orthodox Churches 99
6. Thomas Cranmer 1489-1556
"This Hand Hath Offended" 105
The Episcopalians 119
7. Robert Browne 1550-1631
Brownist and Puritan Reformers 125
The Congregationalists 135
8. John Bunyan 1628-1688
The Tinker Who Couldn't Be Tinkered With . . 144
The Baptists in America 159
9. George Fox 1624-1691
"As Stiff as an Oak, as Clear as a Bell" 171
The Society of Friends 182
10. John Wesley 1703-1791
A Revivalist Prevents a Revolution 192
* The Methodists 206
11. Hosea Ballon 1771-1852
God Does Not Punish Eternally 214
The Universalists 224
12. Thomas Campbell 1763-1854
Alexander Campbell 1788-1866
"The Campbells" 228
A New Church Founded: Disciples of Christ . . 234
IB. Joseph Smith 1805-1844
"Westward Ho!" 245
The Mormon Church 258
14. Mary Baker Eddy 1821-1910
"As a Man Thinketh" 267
The Church of Christ, Scientist 277
15. The United Church of Canada
The United Church of Canada 283
Organization and Beliefs 290
Mother of All Churches 293
St. Augustine . 3
Martin Luther 18
Luther Burning the Papal Bull 23
Calvin Preaching His Farewell Sermon 43
John Knox Preaching From His Pulpit 49
Michael Servetus 61
Old Ship Church Meetinghouse, Hingham, Massachusetts 67
Ignatius Loyola 77
Loyola Kneeling Before Pope Paul III 83
Early Russian Ikon of the Virgin 101
Three English Martyrs: Bishops Ridley and Latimer,
Archbishop Cranmer 112
Cranmer in St. Mary's Church, Oxford 115
The Pilgrims* First Sunday in America 130-131
A Winter Church Service in New England 137
John Bunyan in Bedford Jail 155
Chart Illustrating Christian, the Pilgrim's, Progress. . . 157
Roger Williams Sheltered by the Narragansetts 163
George Fox Preaching in Maryland 181
A Typical Quaker Meeting 186
John Wesley Facing the Mob at Wednesbury 199
John Wesley Preaching 203
John Murray 215
Cane Ridge Meetinghouse, Kentucky 235
Alexander Campbell 241
Joseph Smith Receiving the Book of Mormon from the
Angel Moroni 249
"This Is the Place!" Brigham Young and His Followers 256-257
Mormon Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 265
Mary Baker Eddy 273
World Headquarters of the Christian Science Church,
Boston, Massachusetts 279
The Very Rev. George C. Pidgeon 285
United Church House, Toronto, Canada 289
First Historic Representation of the Menorah 299
i. The Beginning
The Old Story of Salvation
Jesus did not found a new religion. He was Jewish in his
faith throughout all his life. He was a reformer more than an
initiator. He advocated a righteousness that exceeded legalism
and a godliness more vital than that of ritual. Like the greatest
Jewish prophets before him, he protested against turning piety
into the saying of prayers and the offering of sacrifices in the
temple. Like Rabbi Hillel, his older contemporary, Jesus em-
phasized the humble, contrite heart and the forgiving spirit.
Although Jesus won a large popular following, he failed
to bring about the reforms he advocated. Formalized religion
was promoted by many religious leaders of his generation. The
elaborate rituals of the temple in Jerusalem were the glory of
the nation. To maintain outward obedience to all the injunc-
tions of the law, and to encourage all loyal Jews to make
regular pilgrimages to Jerusalem to celebrate the festivals
these things were believed to be essential if the morale and
faith of the people were to be maintained. These outward
forms symbolized the national hope of future greatness when
the longed-for Messiah would be sent from heaven to deliver
the Jewish nation from its conquering enemies.
Jesus failed to win any large number of Jewish ecclesiasti-
cal leaders. His efforts were dramatically cut off by his tragic
death at the hand of the Roman governor of Judea. Although
Jesus himself had opposed rebellion against Rome, Pilate
mistook him for a political agitator and inflicted upon him the
punishment usually meted out to rebels crucifixion.
This story of one of the great Jewish prophets, however,
is not the story that was passed from man to man after Jesus
died. It was not the story told by Paul or Peter or by the writers
9 The Church Across the Street
of the Gospels. It is, rather, the story of what the Christian
Church early came to believe about Jesus.
The shock of Jesus' sudden and tragic martyrdom so
stirred the hearts of his former friends and followers that their
estimate of his significance began to change and grow to giant
proportions. A great enthusiasm was awakened, not so much
for the new ideas Jesus had set forth, as for Jesus himself as a
A strong conviction developed among Jesus' Jewish fol-
lowers that he was not really dead after all. They believed they
had actually seen him alive even after his body had been
buried in the tomb. They thought of him as going back to
heaven to prepare a place for them to come. They believed
that his spirit returned to earth from time to time in invisible
form to be present with them when they met together, to guide
and to encourage them.
The result was that a new movement began. A new so-
ciety was formed of people who worshiped this martyred hero.
In spite of his death, they saw in him the fulfillment of their
long thwarted hopes for a new world. Their old ideas of a
national Messiah were completely changed. Their emotions
were aflame. Their memories of Jesus were alight with the
glory of their hopes.
So it came about, for these and other reasons, that the
factual story of the unorthodox rabbi, who had taught in the
synagogues and who had endeared himself as a friend of out-
casts and sinners, became the story of a supernatural and divine
being who had been sent especially to earth to save the world
from sin. All the things he had done while with them in the
flesh seemed wonderful to his followers. They were sure .he
would return to the earth, for his work was not finished. Then
the world would see his glory and he would do greater wonders
This was the story that was spread throughout the Greek
and Roman world. Paul and Peter, two Jews, first conceived it.
The writers of the Gospels enlarged upon it, and the church
fathers filled in the story with more details. By means of this
story they put their beliefs regarding the significance of Jesus
'/*.:;&&, tj -3*. i'-;-,.
r 4- ,* *^Mmr t y * "*!?**, *t fc Jlj;
i^.-^-air*^ ,.&--- . ?
5i. Augustine, from a fresco (1480) in Florence, Italy, after a paint-
ing by Botticelli, (The Bettmann Archive)
4 The Church Across the Street
within the framework of a stirring world drama. It was the
story of the history of mankind as the early Christians con-
ceived it. It represented a great cosmic plan originated by God
himself. It began before the world was created and it was
conceived as lasting beyond time into eternity. God's direct
interventions into human history mark the great crises in the
story. Jesus is the unique person in the drama, for he is God
himself in human form. This was the gospel that Christians
preached. This was the "good news," the great Story of Salva-
In the fifth century Augustine immortalized the story by
putting it into written form. In doing so he combined the old
Jewish Bible with the gospel records and the Book of Revela-
tion and made them altogether one great connected story. His
genius conceived this inclusive story in the framework of seven
great ages of time. In brief, this is the old story as Augustine
THE SEVEN GREAT AGES OF TIME
In the beginning was God and with him was his only
Son and the blessed angels in heaven. Perfect happiness and
Then God created the earth and sky, the sun, the moon
and the stars. Everything He made was good, and God was
God created the first man and the first woman, forming
them in the pattern of himself, and giving them the gift of
immortality. These first people were good and God was
pleased. He made for them a beautiful garden filled with fruit
trees. He gave them all kinds of animals and birds and fishes
God forbade this first man and woman to eat the fruit of
but one tree and that was the tree o the knowledge of good
and evil, threatening them with the loss of immortality if they
Now one of the angels in heaven, Satan by name, had
THE BEGINNING 5
already disobeyed God and had been cast out of heaven. In
the form of a talking serpent he wandered through the beauti-
ful garden and tempted the first man and woman to disobey
also. With their disobedience came the first great tragedy in
the history of the world. Pain, hard labor and death were their
punishment. With this, their first sin, they lost the purity of
their divine nature. The poison of sin began working within
them. Not only did Adam and Eve die because of their dis-
obedience, but all men have died and all men have inherited
an evil nature.
Children were born. Generations passed away. Mankind
became more and more wicked. God repented that he had ever
created man. So ended the First Great Age of Time.
In justice all mankind should have been destroyed, yet
God was long-suffering and full of kindness towards his crea-
tures. He would give them another chance at least he would
give it to some. God, therefore, chose Noah and his family,
who were living righteously and justly, to be the special objects
of his protection. God commanded Noah to build an ark in
which he and his family and a sampling of all the animals and
birds might live for a while. When these chosen ones were
safe within the ark, God sent a great flood that destroyed all
other living things on the face of the earth.
When the storm had subsided and the earth was once
more dry, human history again begaij. Since, however, even
Noah and his family had inherited the evil nature passed on
to them from Adam and Eve, Noah and his descendants grew
more and more degenerate and wicked. They became proud
of their strength, attempting to build a tower that would reach
even to heaven, but God brought confusion among them, caus-
ing the workmen to speak each a different language, so that
they were unable to achieve their dream of power. So ended
the Second Great Age of Time.
From among all the men on the earth, God again chose
one man who lived a life pleasing in his sight. This man's
name was Abraham. God commanded Abraham to leave his
homeland and to go with his family into a new country. There
he was to found a new nation, a nation whom God would bless
6 The Ch urch A cross the Street
and make great, for they were to be His "chosen people/' who
would become an example and a light to all the rest of man-
Abraham did as God commanded. His descendants in-
creased in number until they were in truth a great people, but
even they became obstinate and rebellious. They, too, had to
be punished. This God finally did by sending them into cap-
tivity in Egypt where they lived as slaves for several hundred
years. So ended the Third Great Age of Time.
Again God raised up a deliverer in the hope that he
might lift mankind back again to the standards of righteous-
ness that had been man's at the beginning. This leader was
Moses, who courageously defied the mighty Pharaoh, delivered
his people from slavery and led them to the borders of a new
land. God revealed to Moses the ten great commandments and
other lesser laws by which the people should rule their lives
but, again, these "chosen people" were rebellious. Even Moses
himself failed at a time of crisis. So ended the Fourth Great
Age of Time.
Once more God provided a leader. His people were en-
abled to enter and conquer the land of Canaan. King David,
a man after God's own heart, sat upon the throne and ruled
his people in righteousness, but David's successors strayed from
the path of obedience: They displeased God by worshiping
lesser gods of stone and wood and following after wickedness.
Again and again God sent prophets among them to speak in
His name and to warn them of His wrath, but few there were
who paid heed to their words. Finally God was obliged once
more to punish. This He did by allowing certain neighboring
nations to conquer his "chosen people." Their capital cities,
Samaria and Jerusalem, were laid waste and the people scat-
tered or killed or taken away to serve as captives in the lands
of their conquerors. So ended the Fifth Great Age of Time.
The sinful nature of man was indeed desperately wicked.
Again and again God had tried to help humanity by sending
specially endowed leaders to teach them, but even his "chosen
people" had forsaken His guidance. For five hundred years
God allowed them to suffer.
THE BEGINNING 7
A righteous God could not let man's sins go unpunished,
yet His love for His creatures was unbounded. Man deserved
everlasting punishment, yet God's mercy could not endure the
prospect. So His great plan of salvation must still be worked
out. Someone must be punished whose value would exceed
the value of all humanity together. Such a one was God's be-
loved Son who had lived with the Father in heaven from all
eternity. If this Son were sent to earth to live as a human being
and if he were punished with death, then God could accept
that punishment as a substitute for the punishment of all man-
So the great Son of God humbled himself and consented
to be given human form. He left his beautiful heavenly home
to live in poverty upon the earth. He was born as a babe in
the womb of a pure woman, without the help of any man.
This God-child, named Jesus, lived a perfect life, taught his
people the truths they had forgotten or had been too blind to
understand. He performed miraculous cures, even raising the
dead, in order to show to all mankind that he was a Son of
Heaven and had been sent by God to the earth.
God's "chosen people/' however, rejected their Savior.
Their leaders complained to Pilate and persuaded the Roman
Pontiff to have him crucified. Thus the divine Son of God
died on the cross as a ransom for the sins of all the world.
Those who believed on Him, and were baptized and tried to
live according to His teachings, would be saved from ever-
lasting punishment. Though they died, they would live again
with Christ In heaven.
As a final proof of His divine nature and mission, Jesus
himself broke the bonds of death, came forth from the tomb
and showed himself to his friends for forty days. Then he was
lifted up again through the clouds into heaven where he now
sits at the right hand of God. So ended the Sixth Great Age
The seventh great age is now passing. Mankind is waiting
for the Son of God to return to the earth in glory. When he
comes He shall rule all the nations of the world in righteous-
ness. He shall be King of kings and Lord of lords. Righteous-
8 The Church Across the Street
ness shall fill the entire earth as the waters now cover the sea,
and there shall be peace among men for a thousand years.
Finally the great Day of Judgment will come. All who
have died will be brought back to life, and both the living and
those who have died will stand before the throne of God and
before His Son in heaven. Each one will be judged on the basis
of his life on earth. If he has believed on Jesus as his Savior,
has been baptized and thus has had his sins washed away and
forgiven, he will be granted through God's great grace an
eternal life of happiness with God and His Son in heaven.
Those others, however, who have been disobedient and
who have not received the pardon of their sins through the
sacrifice of Jesus, their Savior, will be sent to the place of ever-
lasting punishment, where there will be weeping and gnashing
of teeth forever. Thus on that Great Day of Judgment the
Seventh Great Age of Time will come to an end, and eternity
Why This Story Is Important
This, then, is in outline form the Old Story of Salvation.
To tell it so briefly in this manner seems inadequate and un-
fair, for when read in its details the story becomes much more
impressive. 1 No story ever told has had so great an influence
on the history of mankind as has this old story. Thousands of
missionaries have left their homelands, have lived among
strangers and have learned foreign languages in order to tell
this story to those who have never heard it.
It should not be supposed, however, that all missionaries
today are now proclaiming this gospel in these words, nor
should we assume that all ministers who talk about Jesus as
Savior are thinking in terms of this old story in this old form.
Down through the years there have been many revisions made
in the story. Certain parts have been refined. Many Christians
have revised the old ideas of the atonement. Words such as
1 It is told in detail in Sophia Lyon Fahs, The Old Story of Salvation
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1955) .
THE BEGINNING 9
"divinity," "supernatural" and "miracle" have different mean-
ings for different people. What is important for all of us to
realize is that this story In its old form represents the religious
foundation upon which the spiritual life of Europe and Amer-
ica has been building for fifteen hundred years. Before the
progress of scientific discoveries had revolutionized man's out-
look upon the universe and upon his own nature, this inter-
pretation of life was convincing. It satisfied and inspired mil-
lions of people. The story has been loved and sung about as
the "sweetest story ever told."
It is important, too, because many of the ideas expressed
in this old story have become parts of our culture, our think-
ing and even of our language. Almost unconsciously we tend
to conceive of nature and human affairs, even of our oxvn con-
duct, as under the competitive control of two great super-
natural powers, God and the Devil. God, if we pray, may
perhaps be induced to alter events in our favor, even some-
times to the point of miracles like those the Gospels tell us
were wrought by Jesus in Biblical times. Many people think
of human nature as essentially evil, with sickness, suffering
and even death as the continuing penalties for Adam and
Eve's disobedience of the divine command in the Garden of
Eden. This is the concept of Original Sin. Heaven and happi-
ness, hell and misery, are often equated both in our thinking
and in the dictionary. Men may be called by God to perform
special tasks, or to devote their lives to fulfilling certain mis-
This Old Story, then, has influenced and continues to
influence us all. Its ideas and concepts raise serious questions
in our minds: "What is the real nature of God?" "Should we
think of Jesus as God?" "Is it reasonable to think that he was
born of a virgin?" "Do we need to believe in his virgin birth
and his miracles as proof of his divine nature?" "Should we
agree with St. Augustine that by his death Jesus made amends
for the sins of all mankind?" "Is there a life after death, with
eternal happiness or never-ending torment, depending on how
we have lived on earth?" "Does God choose individuals (or
peoples) to be his special instruments?" "Can we believe that
10 The Church Across the Street
God answers prayer?'' "Or that God ever suspends the opera-
tion of natural law and ordains miracles?" When millions of
people would answer such questions as these affirmatively, we
cannot afford to dismiss them without deep and honest
How this story has been changed is, in large measure, the
story of the development of the different churches. Revisions
in the story, as you will see, have come at a great price. Men
have suffered martyrdom because they denied some important
part of the story, while others have suffered with equal courage
to defend it in all its parts.
You will find scenes from the Story of Salvation embodied
in the art you will see in the churches you visit. The hymns
you sing will reflect it as well as the prayers that are said. No
one can really understand the culture of our Western world
who does not know this old story in its old form. It is so custom-
ary, however, to assume that everyone knows the old story that
it is now seldom told fully in its ancient form.
Even today you will find some leaders in our churches
afraid to speak plainly regarding the changes they have or have
not made in the old story. The issues involved still provoke
violent emotions. This, in itself, reveals the important mean-
ings the story has had and still has for the Christian world.
A Spiritual Monarchy Founded ,
The First Great Crisis
When the followers of Jesus were first called Christians,
most of them were Jews. Literally thousands of Jews, both in
Palestine and in many other countries in the Roman world,
became Christians. This meant that such Jews had revolution-
ized their idea of a Messiah. Jesus was not a national political
THE BEGINNING ] J
leader who would deliver his people from the hands of their
enemies. To them he was, rather, a Savior from sin, from
bondage to the law, from the wrath of God.
Greeks, Egyptians and foreigners from many lands also
heard the glad news. Paul let them come into the Christian
fellowship, and Peter also was finally persuaded to do so. They
did not say that would-be Christians must first obey the Jewish
laws, eat Jewish food cooked according to the Jewish codes.
Those rules from the Torah were secondary. The important
matters were things of the spirit.
But there 'were Jewish Christian leaders who did not
agree with Paul and Peter. These others insisted that Jesus
was a Jew in his religion and that any one w r ho meant to follow
him must also first become a Jew In the religious sense he
must take on the yoke of obedience to the Mosaic law.
Paul and Peter won in this first great crisis, with the re-
sult that Christianity became a religion for all peoples. Doubt-
less Paul said over and over what he wrote to the Christians
in Galatia: "We are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ
Jesus. . . . There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be
neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for we
are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:26, 28.)
Antagonism from the Romans
There was another part of this new gospel preached by
the first leaders, which also led to conflict, this time with the
Roman rulers. As the movement grew in power and strength,
Roman authorities became alarmed about this talk of a god-
like person who would appear in the clouds and rule the
world. Would not this mean the overthrow of the Roman
empire? Furthermore, these Christians would not bow to the
image of the emperor. They ceased to support the worship in
the temples. They insisted on worshiping this Jesus whom
they called their Lord.
So this new sect was suspected of disloyalty to Rome.
They were watched as traitors, or ridiculed as fools. From
12 The Church Across the Street
time to time, they were hounded by local mobs. Later by
orders from the emperor In Rome, some were crucified,
burned at the stake, or thrown Into the great Roman arena
to be devoured by lions. In spite of these persecutions, how-
ever, the numbers of Greeks, Romans and Jews who called
themselves Christians grew. Their hope of a heavenly reward
was greater than their fear of death.
The Second Great Crisis
At last in A.D. 313, a great and permanent change came.
Constantine became emperor in Rome, and at the same time
he declared himself to be a Christian, to the amazement of the
Roman world. It is reported that he saw a vision of Christ
before entering his final battle for the throne. Constantine
believed that by the Cross he had conquered. One of Con-
stantlne's first acts as emperor, therefore, was to sign his name
to a law granting "both to Christians and to all others perfect
freedom to practice the religion which each thought best for
himself." The first great Magna Charta of religious freedom
for the whole of the Roman Empire!
It was hard to believe. After nearly three hundred years
of being treated with scorn and persecution, the Christians
were free! They could worship openly wherever they pleased.
The prestige of the emperor gave them respectability and
much more. It gave them power. Soon their leaders began
making friends with Roman nobles. Their bishops were enter-
tained in court. These men who had been used to simple
living, now began to love riches and the pomp of empire.
Up to this time the Christian churches scattered through-
out the Roman Empire had been small groups of Jews and
Gentiles who were banded together for mutual encourage-
ment. They met in Jewish synagogues and in one another's
homes. Master and slave, citizen and subject, rich and poor
ate together. They put their money into a common purse so
that none of their number suffered from lack of food or for
the common comforts. They were very loosely organized, and
those who became leaders lived as simply as the rest.
THE BEGINNING IB
A Spiritual Monarchy
But when Christianity became popular even in the em-
peror's palace, things began to change. The simple democratic
ways the Christians had been following seemed inappropriate
for so great a religion. They began to love ceremony and
pomp, and the elaborate organization of which the Romans
had become masters. Slowly the churches lost the spirit of the
humble Nazarene. They began to copy the organization of the
Roman Empire, and the Church became an absolute spiritual
monarchy, with cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests
all as obedient assistant rulers to the one great bishop of the
churches in Rome, namely, the pope.
To this pope w r as given absolute power in all spiritual
matters, just as the emperor had absolute power in all tem-
poral matters. The pope was called God's representative on
earth. Later the pope's pronouncements on religious matters
were held to be "infallible." On these he supposedly could
make no mistakes, and his word could never be questioned.
In the earlier years, there were often differences of
opinion among the leaders of the churches. Sometimes bitter
feelings were expressed, but the conflicts were adjusted with-
out division in the Christian society.
Now that the church had grown large and powerful, and
its government had become like that of an absolute monarchy,
the tendency developed to compel unity of belief by means of
force. When conflicts seemed impossible to solve, it became
customary for the emperor in Rome to call a council of all the
bishops from all the provinces. There the issues were debated
and a ruling decided upon. If the bishops could not agree,
either the pope or the emperor would decide.
In addition, the Church Fathers expounded the faith
more and more carefully. The council of bishops at Nicaea
declared Jesus Christ to be "very God of very God/' Men had
to believe and accept this creed if they wished to be taken into
the Church. The line of separation between the saved and
unsaved was definitely drawn. All religious thought except
that in harmony with the Story of Salvation or in accord with
the pronouncements of the Church councils was stifled.
14 The Church Across the Street
The free spiritual religion of Jesus which had once ac-
cented love of God and of one's neighbor equally with love of
oneself a religion that appealed to the downtrodden and the
p 00r wa s now ritualistic and pompous, a religion of creeds
and words, and outward rule and form; and the humble
teacher of Galilee was worshiped with all the rich pageantry
that the minds of men and the wealth of kings could muster.
The Holy Catholic Church Breaks in Two
Of course, dissensions continued. There were small
groups that stood out for independence, but if they refused
to obey they were "excommunicated/* that is, expelled from
membership in the church; and sometimes they were driven
into exile and their writings burned. But on the whole, the
Roman pope held supreme power over the churches of all
Europe, Asia and Africa until the year 1054, when the bishop
of Constantinople excommunicated the pope, and the Roman
pope excommunicated the bishop of Constantinople. So the
two separate Catholic churches were established which exist
to the present day: the Greek Orthodox or Eastern Catholic
Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
As we look back today upon this first great schism, it
seems to have been caused more by general political rivalries
and by differences of temperament between the East and the
West than because of a fundamental cleavage in faith. Both
churches were ritualistic and formal, and both believed in the
essentials of the Story of Salvation. The East, however, refused
to accept the Roman pope as final authority, and built up
independently its own form of government and its own
customs. The Eastern churches banned all sculptures as idols
and substituted paintings, or ikons as they are called in Russia,
and they retained a different date for Easter.
The Protestors Were Called Protestants
Not until about A.D. 1500, or until nearly five hundred
more years had passed, was there any other major division
THE BEGINNING 15
within the Roman Catholic Church. It is with the beginning
of the sixteenth century that the story of the different Protes-
tant denominations begins.
The men whose work necessitated the forming of new
denominations and whose stories you will find in this book
were all men who protested. Either they could no longer ac-
cept some part of the Old Story of Salvation or they protested
against something in the form of government by which the
life of the Church was controlled.
The men responsible for the rise of our many Protestant
denominations, therefore, were all men who prized liberty of
faith more than fellowship within the church, and sometimes
even more than life itself. Some of the issues over which they
fought may no longer seem to us to be worth dying for. If the
issues on which our ancestors differed are no longer really
important, or if the beliefs they held are now outmoded,
should the churches and synagogues remain divided on the
basis of the old scores? What beliefs do we hold today that
really matter? At what price are we willing to sell our integrity?
Great men need not that we praise them; the need is ours that
we know them. They are our common heritage. Whether we be of
their faith or of another, whether our fathers fought with them or
with their enemies, whether we stand where they stood or have
traveled far on ways they dreamed not of, we are the richer that
they lived. 2
2 Arthur Cushman McGiffert, "Martin Luther and His Work," The
Century Magazine, LXXXI (December 1910) , 165.
2. Martin Luther
A Christian man Is the most free lord of all, and subject to none:
a Christian man Is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to
Now I would advise you, If you have any wish to pray, to fast,
or to make foundations and churches, as they call It, take care not
to do so with the object of gaining any advantage, either temporal
or eternal. . . . What you give, give freely and without price, that
others may prosper and have increase from you and from your
goodness. Thus you will be a truly good man and a Christian.
MARTIN LUTHER, On the Liberty of a Christian Man
'Here I Stand...!"
On a late spring morning in 1517 the townspeople of
Jiiterbog, Germany, crowded into the parish church to hear
Friar Tetzel, a famous Dominican preacher. With awesome
expectancy they sat through the service until the time came
for the sermon, for they knew that Tetzel had come with an
important commission from the Archbishop of Mainz.
Nor were they disappointed, for he said he had been
authorized by the Pope to offer a "special indulgence/' This
everyone knew was a certificate with the seal of the church
attached. If any one would pay the amount the Pope had set
for such an "Indulgence," a considerable part of the money
would go toward the building of the great Cathedral of St.
Peter in Rome. An "indulgence" would assure the holder of
forgiveness for the penalties incurred for all the sins he had
MARTIN LUTHER 17
confessed to the priest. Or an "Indulgence*' might be used to
secure forgiveness for friends and relatives who had already
died and who might even then be suffering in purgatory.
"Do you not hear your dead parents crying out: 'Have
mercy on us. We are in sore pain and you can set us free for a
pittance. We gave you birth, we cared for you. We left you all
our property, and yet you will be so hard-hearted that you will
let us suffer on in purgatory!' "...
The audience was deeply stirred by the friar's vivid ac-
count of the miseries in purgatory. After the service, many
pressed forward to purchase the papal pardon. To be sure,
some of the buyers would have little money left for food and
clothing, and the harvest was still months away. But what did
these things matter, when the alternative might be suffering
in purgatory until the Day of Judgment?
And who could doubt the efficacy of the pardon when he
received from Friar Tetzel a certificate such as the following,
issued to all purchasers?
In the Name of the Pope
For the entire life, I, by virtue of the apostolic power en-
trusted to me, do absolve thee from all ecclesiastical censures,
judgments, and punishments which thou must have merited; be-
sides this, from all excesses, sins and crimes thou mayest have com-
mitted, however great and shameful they may have been, and for
whatever cause, even in those cases reserved for our most Holy
Father the Pope. I obliterate every taint of unvirtues, all signs of
infamy, which thou mayest have received. I release thee from all
punishments which thou would have in Purgatory. 1 permit thee
again to participate in the sacraments of the Church. I incorporate
thee again in the community of the sanctified, and replace thee in
the state of innocence and purity in which thou wert at the hour
of thy baptism. So that in the moment of thy death the door
through which the sinner enters the place of torture and punish-
ment will be closed, and that will be open to thee which leads into
Portrait of Martin Luther. (Ewing Galloway)
MARTIN LUTHER ] 9
the paradise of joys. If thou shouldest not soon die, so shall this
grace remain unshakeable until the end of thy life. In the
name of the Holy Father. Amen. 1
A post. Com m issarius
Tetzel himself had little cause for worry about the next
world, for things were going well In this one. The Archbishop
of Mainz was to have after the payment of the expenses of
Tetzel's sales campaign half the remainder, and the other
half was to go to Rome to build St. Peter's Cathedral. Business
was good, not only in Jiiterborg but In many other places
visited by Tetzel. News of his preaching had brought people
from the neighboring villages, and even from the university
town of Wittenberg in Saxony.
Luther Is Stirred to Protest
Among those who heard stories of TetzeFs preaching was
an Augustinian friar named Martin Luther, a young professor
in the University of Wittenberg. Luther was angered by the
things he heard and saw. He was sure that certain of the ha-
bitual sinners in Wittenberg, who had confessed their sins to
him, were getting off too easily. Some poor widows were actu-
ally taking food out of the mouths of hungry children to give
money for "indulgences." Luther knew full well how little of
the money ever reached Rome. He openly denounced Tetzel's
methods, but words seemed to have little effect.
Finally, in the fall of that same year, Luther determined
to make his protest felt. On October 31, the eve of All Saints*
Day, he walked up the hill to the castle church and nailed on
the door, where all could see, three sheets of parchment,
covered with writing. He had numbered each statement.
There were 95 points in all.
"Out of love for the truth and from a desire to elucidate
1 Translation quoted from William Dallman, Martin Luther, His Life
and Works (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1917) .
20 The Church Across the Street
It," so the document began, "the Reverend Father Martin
Luther, Master of Arts and Doctor in Sacred Theology, and
ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, Intends to defend
the following statements and to dispute them at this place/*
The next morning, those who passed by and read the
challenge were amazed at the young friar's audacity. He called
the selling of "indulgences," "a grave and public error/' He
said they were like nets for gathering In money and hindered
the proclamation of the gospel. Repentance Is a matter of the
heart. Forgiveness Is from God alone.
Someone who could read the Latin in which Luther had
written the protests, would translate for those who knew no
"Thesis No. 23! " he would call. "It is certain that avarice
Is fostered by money clinking in the chest, but to answer the
prayers of the church is in the power of God alone."
"Thesis No. 36! Every Christian who feels true repent-
ance has by right remission of punishment and guilt without
letters of indulgence."
"Thesis No. 37! Every true Christian, whether living or
dead, has a share in all the benefits of Christ and the Church,
given him by God, even without such letters."
Some few stayed to hear all the challenges even till the
ninety-fifth had been read. Others were satisfied with hearing
only a few. In one way or another the whole list had to do with
How did the young man dare to say such things? Had not
the Pope authorized the sale of "indulgences?" Had not Christ
given the Pope the keys to purgatory as well as to heaven? The
people knew no other way to gain happiness in the world to
come except by following the rules laid down by the church.
The fear of being excluded from heaven hung daily over their
heads. How could anyone afford to risk eternal disaster by
refusing to pay money when the Pope urged it?
News of this bold challenge to debate spread quickly, not
only through the town of Wittenberg, but also copies of the
protests were made and sent to members of the clergy in many
cities. Almost over night the name of the young professor at
Wittenberg became known throughout Germany.
MARTIN LUTHER 2 1
All Germany Hears the News
Some o Luther's fellow friars became alarmed for the
reputation of their order. Others feared for Luther's personal
safety; yet there were many others who were loud in their
praise of the courageous friar. Luther had the quiet approval
of the Elector of Saxony, who in later years proved a life-saving
friend. The feudal lords had long been irked by the vast sums
of money that were being drained from Germany into Italy,
And the common folk everywhere, who had been feeling them-
selves caught in a burdensome system, were given hope. At
last the man for whom they had been waiting had appeared.
Luther quickly became their popular leader.
It was too much to expect silence from the Church when
one of its lucrative sources of income was threatened. Luther's
courageous stand seriously reduced that share of the proceeds
allotted to Albert, Archbishop of Mainz. He soon complained
to Pope Leo X. At first the Holy Father regarded the matter
as simply a monks 7 squabble. He appealed to the other friars
of the Augustinian order.
Luther, however, was not so easily frightened. Devout
Catholic though he was, he was sure of his ground. He would
take nothing back. Instead he publicly denounced the "in-
dulgence" sellers from his pulpit in the castle church with
even more vigor than before. His students were aroused and
proud of their professor. Later Tetzel published some theses
intended to refute those of the teacher of Wittenberg, but
Luther's students secured copies and made a public bonfire
Pope Leo X Acts
News of these happenings soon reached Leo X, who could
no longer overlook so open a challenge to his own authority.
He summoned Luther to Rome to stand trial for heresy. Had
the trial been held, conviction would have been a foregone
conclusion; but during the sixty days given Luther to make
the trip, the Pope learned of Luther's large and popular fol-
22 The Church Across the Street
lowing among the ruling princes of Germany. Leo decided
caution was to be desired.
Finally he sent his chamberlain, a Saxon nobleman
named Miltitz, a man of great tact, to negotiate with Luther.
Since the Pope wished to retain the support of the Elector of
Saxony, he authorized Miltitz to win the Elector by offering
him the papal decoration called the Golden Rose, an honor
the Elector had long desired. To the troublemaking professor
Miltitz might offer a bishopric, if necessary. Although the
Elector accepted the Golden Rose, the most that Miltitz could
get from Luther w r as a promise to keep silent on the matter of
^indulgences" if his opponents would do the same.
The Public Debate in Leipzig
Thus matters stood for over a year when in the winter of
1519 Luther received a letter from John Eck, the famous
theologian, challenging him to a public debate on a set of
theses, "aimed ... at your teachings . . . which seem to my
feeble judgment false and erroneous/' Although Luther was
still bound by his. promise of silence, yet this had been con-
ditioned on the silence of his opponents. He considered that
Eck's move released him from his agreement. Luther, there-
fore, made arrangements to meet the great theologian at
It was a picturesque and truly epochal event. The univer-
sities of Leipzig and Wittenberg were rivals, Leipzig being
keenly jealous of the prestige Luther was bringing its Saxon
neighbor. Students of both institutions were there in force
and they kept the city well stirred up. The debate was held in
the great hall of the duke's palace, not only with students and
townspeople, but also with many dignitaries in attendance.
Excitement was at a high pitch. The city fathers were taking
no chances, and had extra police on duty throughout the entire
two weeks the debate lasted.
Luther was a good debater, but Eck was even more skill-
ful He finally drove Luther to admit that John Hus, the
In a dramatic renunciation of the Pope's authority, Luther burned
the papal bull before the city of Wittenberg's east gate, December
10, 1520. (Ewing Galloway)
24 The Church Across the Street
Bohemian reformer, who had been burned at the stake, was
not wholly wrong. This was equivalent to saying that the
Council of Constance, which had condemned Hus, had made
a mistake. According to the medieval belief, these duly con-
vened world-wide councils were infallible. "If you believe
this/' said Eck, "you are to me as a heathen and a publican."
The debate, therefore, had settled at least one thing. It
made a break with the Pope inevitable and this was not long
in coming. In May 1520, the Pope issued a bull (an official
order) directing that all Luther's books be burned and giving
him sixty days to recant. Since Luther did nothing of the sort,
a bull of excommunication followed in January of the next
Trial Before Emperor Charles in Worms
The next scene in this rapidly moving drama followed
soon. Luther was summoned to defend himself in the city of
Worms before the annual meeting or "Diet" of the princes of
Germany. The journey from his monastery in Wittenberg to
Worms was more like a triumphal procession than the journey
of a condemned man. The city of Wittenberg raised a fund for
a wagon in which Luther might travel in comfort, and he was
accompanied by a delegation of friends.
Everywhere the populace turned out to greet him. At
Erfurt the faculty and students of the old university organized
a procession to escort him into the town. A picturesque sight
it was, with Luther and his companions riding in a wagon half-
filled with straw. Heading the parade was the imperial herald,
carrying the royal standard, "a square yellow banner, with a
black, two-headed eagle." In the procession also were many of
Luther's fellow townsmen, and both students and faculty from
his own university. Some were on horseback, others on foot.
Luther himself frequently played the lute as the company
sang, for he loved music and took the instrument with him to
help pass the long hours. A great dinner in Luther's honor,
given by the city fathers of Worms, climaxed the celebration.
MARTIN LUTHER 25
Also making the trip to Worms was Aleander, the papal
representative. But his experience was very different from that
of his heretical fellow churchman. Innkeepers refused to put
him up, bystanders cursed as he passed. He saw caricatures
representing himself hanging head downwards from a scaffold.
It was very clear that the German people supported Luther.
When the watchman in the tower by the city gates an-
nounced Luther's approach, about two thousand townspeople
hurriedly left their breakfast tables and crowded into the
streets to see the friar who had become a national hero. It
seemed almost true, as someone has said, that "every stone and
every tree cried out 'Luther/ "
On the afternoon of the next day, April 17, 1521, Luther
appeared before this Diet. There sat the princes of the Empire,
including Emperor Charles V himself; and, of course, the
papal representative, Aleander. The imperial marshal led
Luther into the great hall. Facing him was the Emperor, and
on a table near by was a pile of books, which Luther easily
recognized as his own. The silence was soon broken by a very
dignified looking official who formally arraigned Luther,
"Martin Luther, His Imperial Majesty, Sacred and Vic-
torious, on the advice of all the Estates of the Holy Roman
Empire, has ordered that you be summoned here to the throne
of his Majesty. . . . First, I ask you to confess that these books
exhibited in your presence . . . which have been circulated
with your name on the title page, are yours, and do you ac-
knowledge them to be yours? Secondly, do you wish to retract
and recall them and their contents, or do you mean to adhere
to them and reassert them?"
A solemn moment it was for Luther. If he retracted, he
might save his life. If he did not, it was almost certain that he
would be burned alive at the stake. To admit error would
have been easy. But Luther believed God was on his side. He
had no choice but to obey his conscience.
In a clear and deliberate voice he answered:
"I cannot deny that the books named are mine, and I will
never deny any of them: . . . But as to what follows, whether I
26 The Church Across the Street
shall reaffirm ... or shall retract. ... I beg, with all respect,
that your Imperial Majesty give me time to deliberate that I
may answer the question without injury to the Word of God,
and without peril to my own soul."
After some deliberation, Luther was given twenty-four
hours to make his final decision. The imperial herald escorted
him from the council chamber.
"'Without Horns and Without Teeth"
The next day the crowd in the great hall was even greater
than the day before. The air was close and the smoke from
many torches made it worse.
After a sharp and vindictive speech by John Eck, it was
Luther's turn. Mistakes, he said, were human. No doubt he
had made his own share of them. If such were proved, he
w^ould willingly recant.
"If his Imperial Majesty desires a plain answer, I will
give him one without horns and without teeth, and it is this:
It is impossible for me to recant unless I am proved to be in
the wrong by the testimony of the Scriptures or by evident
reasoning; I cannot trust either the decisions of Councils or
Popes, for it is plain that they have not only erred, but have
contradicted each other. My conscience is chained to the Word
of God, and it is neither safe nor honest to act against one's
conscience. God help me!"
Here the Emperor interrupted. He had heard enough.
There was great confusion in the court. Luther was adamant.
"Here I stand," he said, "I cannot do otherwise."
Strange to say, Martin Luther was not condemned to be
burned at the stake. Instead he waited a week in Worms, and
to his surprise he finally received permission to start for home.
Twenty-Five Years Unmolested
Something happened then which kept all Germany guess-
ing for a year thereafter. As Luther and two companions were
riding through a dark forest toward Gotha, suddenly a party
MARTIN LUTHER 27
of armed men appeared and carried him off. Actually the
arrest was due to a plan made by his old friend, Elector Freder-
ick, to insure Luther's safety; for as Frederick had foreseen,
the Diet soon placed the heretical friar under the "ban of the
Empire/ 5 So Luther was spirited off to the picturesque Castle
of the Wartburg, in which he became an involuntary guest.
While confined to the castle, Luther wrote many
pamphlets and books which were freely circulated throughout
Germany. His greatest achievement was his translation of the
New Testament into German. Later he completed the Old
Testament also. Although his translation of the Bible into
German w r as not the first to be made, yet it had much more
influence than any other, for Luther knew how to use the
robust, vigorous language of the people. Luther's Bible helped
more than any one thing to unify the Reformation in
After a year in hiding at Wartburg Castle, Luther
broke away from his place of refuge, against the advice of his
old friend, the Elector Frederick, and went back to live again
as a professor in the University of Wittenberg. Since a number
of the princes of the country openly became Protestants, the
reform movement grew rapidly. Luther was never again
brought to trial. He lived and worked for nearly twenty-five
What Was the Reformation About?
What, then, was this Reformation which Martin Luther
started? Why did it take such a strong hold upon the people of
Germany and spread so rapidly? Just what was it that Luther
was protesting against? Was it merely the evils of "in-
dulgences"? Or was something even more significant hap-
The truth is that in the beginning, Luther had never in-
tended to start a new movement. He had not meant to break
with the Pope. But one step taken led to another. His own
thinking changed and matured as a result of the reactions that
were made to his protests. Luther was not against "works,"
28 The Church Across the Street
such as celebrating the sacraments, Differing prayers, giving
alms, doing penance. But he was against doing such "works"
in order to be saved. Luther insisted that men cannot earn
salvation through "works." It is a free gift. God's forgiveness
once given is complete. It covers every sin. After a person is
once accepted of God, he has nothing to fear. God has chosen
or "elected" him for heaven and God will see that he gets
there. All that one does to gain this assurance is to have "faith."
Living a good life after that is the natural expression of grati-
tude to God.
Luther said also that every man is his own priest. Each
has direct access to God. Luther did not propose doing away
with priests, but he insisted that men are not completely help-
less without priestly aid. To Luther the central fact in the
gospel is "faith"; by "faith" we are saved and not by "works."
The Roman Catholic church, however, had made the re-
ligious life a matter of faithfulness in prayer, attending the
mass, receiving the sacraments, making confession to the
priests, performing penance, doing deeds of charity all of
which were regarded as "good works." The fear of not having
done enough to merit heaven followed the people continually.
An unforgiven sin might result in a stay in purgatory, and
even one unforgiven "mortal" sin deserved eternal damnation.
Luther saw the people so absorbed in accumulating merit in
order to save themselves from the wrath to come, that many
had no leisure to be happy.
Luther's gospel was a wonderful message to preach to
such fear-bound subjects of the Pope. Luther not only
preached this "good news," he also wrote hymns that the
people could sing. Even yet many of them are sung, such as
"Away in a manger" and the magnificent "Ein' feste Burg ist
unser Gott" ("A mighty fortress is our God").
Luther's gospel brought also a new view of one's daily
work. Luther, who had renounced a promising career in law
and had for years been a pious friar, came to the conclusion:
It is not necessary that he who would serve God should
undertake some special kind of an occupation It looks like a
MARTIN LUTHER 29
great thing when a monk renounces everything and goes Into a
cloister, carries on a life of asceticism, fasts, watches, prays, etc.
On the other hand, It looks like a small thing when a maid cooks
and cleans and does other housework. But because God's command
Is there, even such a small work must be praised as a service of God
far surpassing the holiness and asceticism of all monks and nuns.-
As others came to accept Luther's estimate of the worth
of all kinds of work, monks began to abandon their monas-
teries. Many of them married, did work as other men and
ceased their begging. Luther himself married a nun who had
been converted to his point of view. Luther liked to call her
"My Lord Kathe" because she managed his affairs so well and
much to his profit. To them were born six children. Some of
Luther's letters to them are models of tenderness and humor.
Luther Turns Against the Peasants
During his later years, Luther's inconsistencies became
increasingly apparent. In the beginning he was the idol of the
poor. As a result of the new hope which Luther's Reformation
inspired, the peasants organized and began to protest against
the treatment given them by their landlords. At first Luther
encouraged them. He showed interest in the Twelve Articles
which they put into what they called their charter. Luther
warned the landlords of their danger if they did not lessen the
hardships of their peasants. But the landlords turned deaf ears
to Luther's warnings. Finally, Luther begged the peasants to
yield to what was for the time inevitable.
The peasants refused. Without skilled leadership, their
organization got out of control. Small groups, led by fanatical
leaders, fought with scythes and axes as well as with swords.
Before long the peasant revolt became a bloody class war.
Luther had to side with the princes, for they were the men
who were protecting the Reformation movement and were
2 Arthur Cushman McGiffert, "Luther and the Unfinished Reforma-
tion/' Union Theological Seminary Bulletin, I (January 19-18) , 22.
30 The Church Across the Street
soon to establish his Protestant churches. Furthermore, Luther
believed that the princes had been given their authority direct-
ly by God. Both sides were angry and determined to fight it
out. Finally in desperation, Luther wrote a scathing pamphlet
in which he called upon the princes to slay the rebellious
peasants as if they were mad dogs. Fearful atrocities occurred
on both sides. About 100,000 peasants are said to have been
killed. From that time on Luther became fearful of all social
As a result, the Reformation, started by a man who was
himself a miner's son, became controlled by the ruling classes.
It w r as decided that the religion of a given territory, such as
that belonging to Luther's prince, the Elector of Saxony,
should be the religion of its prince. As a result perhaps two-
thirds of the total area of the Holy Roman Empire became
Protestant though not all of these territories remained so.
This turn of events ended the persecution of the Lutherans
in these territories; but it led also to a growing conservatism
in the Lutheran movement.
An Unfinished Reformation
The Protestant revolt in Germany affected all of Europe
and England as well. News of the success of the movement
spread from country to country. Some men were frightened
and as Roman Catholics led in the persecution of "heretics."
Others were emboldened to join in the Protestant revolt. It
would have been of inestimable advantage to the Protestants
had they been able to present a united front to the ancient and
powerful Roman Catholic Church. But Luther grew too dog-
matic in the positions he took to be able to cooperate with the
leaders in southwestern Germany and in parts of Switzerland
when they disagreed with him, even on matters that now seem
to us to be unimportant.
Luther is rightly remembered as one of the great men of
history. He started a religious reformation that had in it the
possibilities of a further development in freedom of thought,
but neither Luther nor his generation were prepared to face
the hazards of a larger freedom. In the midst of political tur-
moil and disunity In Europe, Luther and his colleagues sensed
keenly the need to keep the Protestant movement united.
Having rejected the strong monarchical type of Roman Cath-
olic church government, the Lutheran churches attempted
to secure unity by agreement on doctrine. Their leaders strug-
gled painstakingly and long to secure agreement on every
theological Issue that seemed Important to their generation.
The authority on which doctrine was based was that of the
Scriptures. The early Lutherans, therefore, stressed orthodoxy,
and prepared the longest creedal statement for common ac-
ceptance that any Protestant Church has ever produced.
". . . [Luther] dominated more than half the western world,
and the whole of It is changed because he lived. . . . He was of
titanic stature, and our common standards fail adequately to
measure him." 3
The Lutherans in America
Lutheran Beginnings in America
It was not until the early part of the eighteenth century
that German and Scandinavian immigrants began coming to
the New World in large numbers. Most of these Immigrants
came to improve their economic status rather than to escape
religious persecutions. Because of their poverty, their migra-
tions and their lack of ministers, their churches grew slowly.
Realizing their need of help from outside, these Luther-
ans appealed to their home churches in Germany for a leader.
Fortunately, in 1742 their German brethren sent Rev. Henry
Melchior Muhlenberg, a young minister from the University
of Halle in Germany. After a hazardous voyage, in which only
3 McGiffert, Martin Luther: The Man and His Work (New York, 1911) ,
32 The Church Across the Street
the fortunate meeting with two British warships saved all on
board from dying from thirst, Muhlenberg and his wife landed
in Charleston, South Carolina.
He made his headquarters, however, in Pennsylvania,
and set about at once to use his strength and genius to help
bring the scattered Lutheran settlers into a unified church.
He traveled from settlement to settlement. Sometimes he rode
on horseback over Indian trails. Sometimes he made his way
laboriously on foot through country that still was a primeval
wilderness. Sleeping under the stars and fording rivers were
for him common occurrences. When, in some settlements, he
could find no one who could teach the children, he would
organize classes himself and teach, spending perhaps a week in
With all his traveling, preaching and teaching, Muhlen-
berg and his wife found time to bring up a family of six sons
and five daughters so successfully that all the sons in their turn
became Lutheran ministers, and most of them achieved con-
siderable reputation. One served as a general in Washington's
army, another was the first speaker of the House of Representa-
tives, and still a third was a famous botanist. But the Muhlen-
berg story does not end there, for some of his grandsons also
earned eminence. Few American families have contributed as
much to the nation as these pioneer Lutheran Muhlenbergs.
Eminent Lutherans of Today
In more recent times other Lutherans have achieved
reknown for their nobility and courage. No story of World
War II would be complete without mention of Pastor Martin
Niemoeller, the stouthearted minister of the fashionable Jesus
Christus Kirche (church) of Berlin, who dared to defy the
Nazis and was rewarded for his courage by imprisonment in a
concentration camp for eight years. And there was the late
Dag Hammarskjold, servant of all mankind as Secretary of the
United Nations, whose greatest goal was peace among all
How Many Lutherans Arc There?
In the United States at the present time there are ap-
proximately 5 million Lutherans. They outnumber every
other Protestant body in Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Ne-
braska, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Lutherans are most numerous where immigrants from Ger-
many, Scandinavia, Finland and Denmark have settled. They
are the largest Protestant body in many American cities, in-
cluding Buffalo, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Detroit,
Toledo and Chicago. Lutherans are also numerous in Canada,
where there are nearly half a million.
In the Scandinavian countries the Lutheran Church is
the established or state church, although there is religious free-
dom and others are tolerated. It is therefore difficult to know
just how many people are actually Lutheran in belief. Luther-
ans are also numerous in West Germany, although in East
Germany the Lutheran Church has encountered the same
strong opposition from the Communists as has every other
form of organized religion. This opposition has been directed
most strongly against Lutheran youth.
The present membership of Lutheran churches the world
over is said to be just under 75,000,000. They are thus the
largest Protestant denomination, and are exceeded only by the
Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
No matter what kind of Lutheran church you may visit,
you are likely to find a prayer book and a ritualistic type of
Service. Like the Episcopalians, the Lutherans observe the
special days of the Christian calendar.
When you attend a Lutheran service, however, you may
find that the prayers, readings and even the sermon are all in
a foreign tongue, but this is much less common today than
formerly. If you can decide whether you are hearing German,
Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian or Icelandic, you will
34 The Church Across the Street
know the country from which the original members of the
church emigrated. One marked characteristic of these Luther-
an churches is the tenacity with which they have clung to the
use of their native languages in their services of worship. In
some places one service on Sunday may be in a foreign
language, for the special benefit of the older people, and an-
other service may be in English to please the young people.
Slowly all the churches are introducing the English language.
Kinds of Lutherans
Although Luther himself, like many another religious
reformer, wished only to purify his own church and had no
intention of starting a new one, his followers today, especially
in the United States, are split into sixteen or more sects. Some,
like the Suomi (Finnish) Synod, are based on the country of
origin, but others have to do with minor differences of belief.
In recent years, however, such differences have tended to fade
and there has been a strong tendency toward union. Three of
these churches (Evangelical, American, and United Evangeli-
cal) have already united under the name of the American
Lutheran Church, which, with its more than 2 million mem-
bers, will be one of the larger denominations; it may become
even larger should the Lutheran Free Church also join, as
seems likely. Four other Lutheran bodies, with a total mem-
bership exceeding 3 million, have also voted in favor of a
merger. These are the Suomi, United Lutheran Church in
America, the Augustana Synod and the American Evangelical
Many of the dissensions over the creeds which rent the
Lutheran churches in Europe apart, have been carried over
into the New World. In their beliefs Lutherans are conserva-
tive, and most of them still loyal to the Augsburg Confession.
MARTIN* LUTHER 35
This was a long and careful statement made, after consultation
with Luther, by Melanchthon and other experts and presented
at a session of the Diet held in Augsburg in 1530. Most Luther-
ans still accept the Old and New Testaments as the divinely
inspired rule of faith and practice.
The most conservative Lutheran group in the United
States, now usually called the Missouri Synod, organized in
1872, is centered in St. Louis, but has strong organizations also
in adjoining states. It has a membership of about 2j/ million.
In some Lutheran churches the children are still being
taught the Smaller Catechism, which Luther wrote for the
children of his day. By question and answer, the little book
sets forth the interpretation of the gospel as skillfully phrased
by Luther. In some churches the children learn to repeat the
answers word for word and so become grounded in the faith.
Lutheran Church Organization
Lutheran churches are organized into synods, to which
in many ways each church is subject; yet each congregation is
left quite free to choose its own minister and to govern its own
affairs. For young people there are societies, such as the Luther
League and the Walther League, both of which have many
thousands of members. There are also Lutheran chaplains and
student centers on many college and university campuses.
Although there are no Lutheran bishops in the United
States, the Lutheran state churches of the Scandinavian coun-
tries have an episcopal form of government. The bishops of
Norway and Sweden are considered to be the direct successors
of the Roman Catholic prelates of Reformation times who
were converted to the reformed faith.
Lutheran Community Activities
Ever since Luther's day, his followers have been zealous
for education. He has sometimes been called the "father of the
36 The Church Across the Street
public school/' because he urged the German princes to estab-
lish schools in their territories which would be open to all
alike. Luther even advocated that girls go to school for an
hour a day.
The Lutherans in some American communities, particu-
larly in the Midwest where the church is strongest, have
founded parochial schools of their own in which religious in-
struction is made part of general education. They have also
established many colleges; among them are Gettysburg, Muh-
lenberg, Wittenberg, St. Olaf s, Capitol University, Susque-
hanna University and more than forty others.
This is not all. For Negroes in the South, schools have
been started. There are Lutheran schools for the deaf, many
orphanages, homes for the aged and hospitals for the sick.
. John Calvin
He who commands us to use this world as though we used it not,
prohibits not only all Intemperance In eating and drinking, ex-
cessive delicacy, ambition, pride, haughtiness, and fastidiousness
in our furniture, our habitations, and our apparel, but every care
and affection which would either seduce or disturb us from
thoughts of the heavenly life, and attention to the Improvement
of our souls.
JOHN CALVIN,, Opera, III
The Ruler of "a City of God 3
Two years after Luther was tried before the emperor in
the city of Worms, a young Frenchman, named Jean Cauvin
(later known as John Calvin), was beginning his studies at the
University of Paris, with the expectation of becoming a
Roman Catholic priest.
He was tall and thin of build. His piercing dark eyes and
his black hair lent a severity to his thin face. His light eating
habits and his long hours of study until midnight had already
induced a tendency to poor digestion. Even in his youth he
had what his biographers have described as "an iron spirit
incased in a frail body/' He condemned the drinking,
gambling and loose living of his fellow students, with out-
38 The Church Across the Street
Calvin the Restless Student
John Calvin had begun his college life in Paris with a
view to entering the Roman Catholic priesthood. By so doing,
he was able to secure a much-needed scholarship. Later his
father ordered him to study law instead, since the profession
promised more lucrative employment in the end. So John
Calvin left the University of Paris and for several years studied
in Orleans and Bourges. His interests were divided between
a study of law and a study of the Latin and Greek classical
Again Calvin returned to the University of Paris. His
interest in religion was being awakened as his knowledge grew
regarding the Protestant Reformation in Germany. Some of
his professors had strong Protestant leanings, although they
were very guarded in their expressions of sympathy with the
movement. France was a strong Roman Catholic country, and
the Church had its observers everywhere who were spying
upon all possible heretics. One of Calvin's fellow students,
Nicholas Cop, was becoming secretly enthusiastic over the
Protestant movement. Calvin began reading whatever he
could lay his hands on of the writings of Martin Luther.
Finally, the crisis came for John Calvin when he had
what he called a "sudden conversion/' which he believed had
come to him through God's direct guidance. Just what it was
that happened, Calvin never described. All we know is that on
that day he began his stormy career as a Protestant reformer.
Later, when he was about to graduate from the depart-
ment of theology, his friend Nicholas Cop was to be installed
as rector of the University of Paris. Calvin, out of kindness, so
the story goes, helped Cop write his inaugural address. Ac-
cording to the conservative professors who heard the address,
however, it contained too many Lutheran ideas. The result
was that both Cop and Calvin saw that they must flee at once
from Paris. Calvin returned to his home in Noyon, but even
there he was unable to refrain from speaking out. As a result
he was soon imprisoned for having made "an uproar in the
JOHN CALVIN 39
church." His release came quickly, however, and this time
Calvin found refuge In Basel, Switzerland, where he lived for
several years In quiet seclusion.
Calvin's First Great Book
Calvin's experience with persecution merely spurred him
to harder study and to clearer thinking. Hours at a time he
worked alone In a rented room, his Bible beside him. His
logical mind was struggling with one big idea after another.
It w r as the Word of God he was trying to set forth. He w r anted
to Include all the important doctrines essential to salvation
and to a sound faith. As he worked, his thoughts grew into a
book. It came to have six chapters. He expounded the nature
of God his sovereign will, his predestination before the foun-
dation of the world of certain people to salvation and others
to damnation. He wrote of the sinful nature of man, the
authority of the Bible as setting forth God's will and the rules
of right living. He explained the church and the sacraments.
As Calvin wrote, the truth seemed to become clear. He felt
that he had written things that should be made known. He
would publish them as a book and he would call It The In-
stitutes of the Christian Religion. (The word "institutes"
Finally, one morning in 1536 at an appointed hour, he
left his room and walked briskly down the cobbled street to
the little printing house where he had committed his pages to
the printer's ink. When he again came out on the street he was
carrying a copy of the book in his hand. No wonder he was
excited, this young man of twenty-six years. Would the book
sell? Who would read it? What would happen to him for
During the remaining years of his dramatic life, although
he wrote many other books and preached thousands of ser-
mons, Calvin never changed the fundamental positions which
he set forth in his first religious book. Later he added other
40 The Church Across the Street
chapters. He took up certain subjects in more detail, but he
never revised his points of view.
Nothing else that Calvin ever did, important as was his
rule of the city of Geneva, had such a lasting influence as this
one book. The ideas in The Institutes were not only Calvin's
own guide throughout his life, they have comprised the funda-
mental beliefs that have prevailed for four centuries in many
churches. The Presbyterians, many of the Reformed churches
and the Puritans were all deeply influenced by Calvin's
Beginning the Great Experiment
Shortly after finishing his book, Calvin set out once again
for his home in Noyon, but because of a war which was then
raging, he had to detour through Geneva, Switzerland. There
he met a young Protestant minister named William Farel, who
was trying to make the thirteen thousand people of that city
into loyal and good Protestants. The highest council govern-
ing the city had sometime before proclaimed that Geneva was
a Protestant city. The Roman Catholic Mass was no longer
observed in the churches. The four monasteries and the one
nunnery had been closed. A religion, however, which had
endured for centuries could not be destroyed over night.
There were still many who preferred to remain Catholic.
There were others, called "Libertines," who frequented the
taverns to drink, dance and gamble; and they were not at all
hankering after any strait-laced righteousness.
William Farel was an eloquent Protestant preacher, but
tactless. He had neither a broad education nor the ability to
organize and discipline. He did have, however, an uncanny
ability to sense genius and he thought he had found it in
So, in July 1536, when only twenty-seven years of age,
John Calvin began the great Protestant experiment of trying
to transform the city of Geneva into a City of God on earth.
He set to work at once along two lines, first to establish
purity of doctrine, and second to require purity of conduct.
He came armed for his task with the belief that the Old and
New Testaments contain "the perfect rule of faith and prac-
tice." He came also with the inner conviction that he had been
commissioned by God to proclaim His sovereign will as re-
vealed in the Holy Scriptures. He believed that those whom
God had foreordained to salvation from the foundation of the
world w^ould listen and obey. Those who refused obedience
would thereby show that they had been foreordained to sin
Purity of Conduct
Calvin's training in the school of law made him skillful
in turning the Christian life into a set of rules to be followed.
He declared that failure to attend all regular services held in
the church would be fined. All shops must be closed on Sun-
day. Gambling, drunkenness, card playing were all forbidden.
In order that these laws might be enforced, Calvin had
representatives chosen from among the members of the various
congregations to act as councils. These men were responsible
for spying on their neighbors and for reporting all forms of
misconduct. At all hours homes could be entered without
warning on the assumption that one should never do anything
he was ashamed to have known.
Geneva already had well-organized city councils who ad-
ministered the government. They were not permitted to de-
cide what acts were criminal. They could not make the church
laws, but they could participate in deciding the punishments,
and they could act as police to make arrests and to gather fines.
Although Calvin believed that the Church should be free of
all state control, he did not believe that the state should be
free of control by the Church.
Purity of Faith and Worship
Calvin began changing also the character of the church
services, introducing into them a plain, even austere solem-
nity. He had all images and works of art removed from the
42 The Church Across the Street
churches. He Introduced congregational singing as a substitute
for the gowned choirs and the elaborate music of the Roman
Catholic services. He forbade the use of all musical instru-
ments in the church. Later he had the pipes of the organ in the
Geneva cathedral melted down, and the material used to make
cups for Communion wine.
Calvin also set for himself the task of stating the beliefs
that all Protestants should hold. He prepared a Catechism for
the instruction of old and young. He wrote also a Confession
of Faith, to be used in the services of worship. The Catechism
was taught and expounded at special gatherings during the
From our modern outlook, Calvin's rule in Geneva
seems perhaps more like a reign of terror than like the be-
ginning of a "City of God" on earth. But during the sixteenth
century the people of Europe were accustomed to dictatorship
and rough discipline, and Calvin's rule was not maintained
for the sake of any personal gain. He believed he was acting in
the name of the God of righteousness. There were wealthy,
liberty-loving families, however, and red-light districts and
theaters in Geneva which even the Roman Catholic priests
had secretly aided. These Libertines resented Calvin's stern
efforts to prohibit their pleasures. At first they showed their
resentment by making him the butt of their jokes whenever
he walked the street. In the darkness of the night, they sere-
naded him with lewd songs.
Crisis and Banishment
Matters finally came to a head over an issue which to us
today scarcely seems worth fighting over. Calvin and Farel,
when performing the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, had
been accustomed to use leavened (or yeast) bread. The city
council, however, who were determined that things in Geneva
should be done as they were being done in the Protestant city
of Berne, ruled that only unleavened bread should be used.
Although it was not of great importance to Calvin which kind
John Calvin preaching his farewell sermon in Geneva, Switzer-
land, in expectation oj his banishment from that city. (The Bett-
44 The Church Across the Street
of bread was used, he was determined that the civil authorities
should not make rules for the Church.
Heated discussions day after day led nowhere. Angry
feelings were at their height on Sunday morning, April 21,
1537. The great church of St. James was filled with worshipers.
The time came for the observance of the Sacrament, and John
Calvin refused to serve the bread and wine of the Communion.
He said that altogether they were in no proper spirit to receive
No further match was needed to kindle the flame of an-
tagonism against Calvin and Farel. The very next day, the city
council voted to banish them both from the city of Geneva.
The two men promptly left for Strassburg in Germany
(now the French city of Strasbourg) where Calvin was soon
invited to become minister of a Protestant church there and
to become a professor of theology at the local university. Calvin
used this time of exile for further writing. He revised and
expanded The Institutes of the Christian Religion. He com-
piled a hymnbook for congregational singing, setting some of
the old Psalms to familiar tunes.
The opportunity for quiet work of this type, however,
did not last long. After two years, the people of Geneva, re-
penting their having banished their great leader, appealed to
him to return. Without him the "City of God" on earth could
The Second Experiment
After long consideration Calvin reluctantly accepted.
With renewed assurance he took up his work where he had
left off. Again he organized the churches, defining carefully
the different responsibilities for pastors, elders and deacons.
The pastors were to form the Venerable Company, a body
charged with meeting periodically for the study of the Bible
and for mutual self-criticism. Out of the several congregations,
a council of twelve elders was chosen and known as the "Con-
sistory." To these elders fell the scarcely pleasant duty of
JOHN CALVIN 45
watching over faith and morals, especially of those who seemed
to "err and lead a disorderly life/'
The church Consistory had no power to compel obedi-
ence to the laws, but they could recommend to the city council
the punishments to be meted out for violations, and such
recommendations were usually followed. They could threaten
public exposure of offenses, and could excommunicate the
offenders. Since excommunication w r as regarded as proof that
the victim was not one of the elect, and hence doomed to
eternal punishment in the hereafter, it was a very potent
The list of misdemeanors was enlarged. It included such
matters as having one's fortune told by gypsies, all forms of
idolatry, such as having images or sacred relics of any kind
in home or church, or saying that the pope was a good man.
Calvin even made a list of names which should not be given to
children. He tried to turn the taverns into places where men
would give thanks to God before drinking, and where Bibles
were prominently displayed in the hope that thus the con-
versation w r ould be turned to serious subjects.
Banishment, imprisonment, in some cases drowning, were
penalties inflicted on unchastity. To sing or even to have in one's
possession lewd songs was a crime: to laugh at Calvin's sermons, or
to have spoken hot words of him in the street, was a crime: to wear
clothes of forbidden stuff or make was a crime: to give a feast to
too many guests or of too many dishes was a crime: to dance at a
wedding was a crime: to all of which, with many others of like
sort, appropriate punishments were meted out. Everybody was
obliged to attend public worship: everybody was required to
partake of the Lord's Supper: no sick man might lie in bed for
three days without sending for the minister of the parish. 1
Calvin should be given credit, however, for certain practi-
cal items in his code, such as requiring garbage and filth to be
disposed of in sewers rather than in the streets. He also made
laws regarding the lighting of fires in certain unsafe places.
1 Charles Beard, The Reformation (London, 1883) , p. 250.
46 The Church Across the Street
He established a hospital for victims of the plague, and en-
couraged the Protestant refugees, who flocked to Geneva from
other countries of Europe, to develop a first-class weaving
Development of Education
Calvin was also definitely interested in educating the
people. He and Farel had long been attempting to carry on a
program of free compulsory education. In 1558, Calvin per-
suaded the city council to enlarge the inefficient little school
which they had and to provide for instruction from the prima-
ry grades through college. He insisted on securing the best
available teachers and made careful provision for instruction
in religion. From such a beginning the famous University of
Geneva has grown, a memorial to the educational interest of
John Calvin and to his wise foresight.
The Significance of the Experimenter
For twenty-three successive years Calvin dominated the
City of Geneva. Finally, unremitting labor, combined with
little sleep, a too frugal diet, and frequent indigestion exacted
their toll. Tuberculosis, that for years had been burning in his
frail frame, finally completely overwhelmed him at the early
age of fifty-five. On May 28, 1564, his outworn body was buried
without pomp or ceremony. According to his own expressed
wish, no stone was placed above it to mark his last resting
In his farewell talk to his ministerial colleagues, Calvin
uttered these words which reveal the spirit of this significant
I have lived in marvelous combats here. I have been saluted
in mockery of an evening by fifty or sixty gun-shots before my
JOHN CALVIN 47
door. Fancy how that could shock a poor student, timid as I am
and as I confess I have always been. After that, I was hunted from
this city and betook myself to Strassburg. Having dwelt there for
some time, I was recalled, but I had not less trouble than before
in the discharge of my duty. They set dogs on me, and these
gripped me by my coat and legs. They cried "scoundrel, scoundrel"
after me Yes, I have been in combats, and you will have more
of them, not less but greater
Although 1 am nothing, I know that I have suppressed three
thousand tumults in Geneva. Be strong and of good courage, for
God will preserve this church and defend it. I assure you God will
keep it. 2
However we may judge the severity of Calvin's rule over
"the City of God" that he established, or however much we
may decry the autocratic methods he used, it is a fact that
within the city "the drunkard, the harlot, the blasphemer, and
the idler had been driven under cover," and that outwardly,
at least, "Geneva was morally the cleanest city of all Europe." 3
Weighed in the balance of modern ethical insight, some
may regard his influence as containing more of evil than of
good. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that both as an eccle-
siastical statesman and as a theological thinker, John Calvin
ranks among the Protestant reformers as the man who has had
the greatest and the longest influence.
Just as the Lutherans are the descendants of the Reforma-
tion led by Luther, so the Presbyterians are the inheritors of
*Joannis Calvin; Opera Quce Supersunt Omnia, ix, 891 fL, quoted by
Georgia Harkness, John Calvin: The Man and His Ethics (Nashville: Abingdon
Press, 1931) , p. 58.
48 The Church Across the Street
the work of John Calvin. Today in the United States, Pres-
byterian Church members of all varieties number about 4
million, and there are nearly a million more in Canada.
The Spread of Calvin's Doctrines
During Calvin's lifetime his ideas won adherents far
beyond the boundaries of Switzerland. Many Protestants in
other parts of the continent of Europe followed his leadership.
This was true especially in France and Holland.The Calvinists
made advances as minority groups also in many parts of
present-day Germany, in Austria, Bohemia, Hungary and
Poland. Many of these gains were lost as a result of Jesuit mis-
sions and of terrible civil wars. Today in Europe, Calvinistic
churches are strong chiefly in Switzerland, France, Holland
and Hungary, and in Germany in the region centering about
Heidelberg. Presbyterian or Calvinistic churches in Hungary,
like others, have suffered from Communist opposition.
In England the Calvinist doctrine and theory of church
government were particularly strong during the latter part of
the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the period when Oliver
Cromwell established his Commonwealth. The Stuart kings,
however, became increasingly hostile to it.
During Calvin's lifetime his most ardent and energetic
disciple, John Knox, lived in Scotland. Since Protestants were
then being cruelly persecuted in Scotland, John Knox fled to
Switzerland and spent three years in Geneva. There he became
thoroughly imbued with Calvin's gospel. He grew so enthusi-
astic over the way "the City of God" was ruled that he called
it "the most perfect school of Christ that ever was on earth
since the days of the Apostles/' 4 When freedom for Protestants
was again established in Scotland, therefore, Knox returned
with the burning ambition to make not only one community
a City of God on earth, but to make over all Scotland according
4 John Knox, letter of December 9, 1556, to Mrs. Locke, quoted by Hark-
ness, op. tit., p. 59.
From his pulpit John Knox thundered against the religion of
Scotland's Catholic queen, Mary Stuart. (Keystone View Co.)
50 The Church Across the Street
to Calvinist faith and practice. His success is shown by the fact
that the Presbyterian Church became the state Church of
The Scotch-Irish Presbyterians
In the sixteenth century, when England and Scotland
declared their independence of the Church of Rome, the great
majority of Irishmen resented the attempts of the English
Crown to compel them to accept Protestantism and to require
the use of the prayer book in the English language.
The conflict grew acute during the reigns of James I and
II. By order of the Crown, Roman Catholic landholders in
Ireland were driven off their lands, and Scottish Presbyterian
settlers were brought in to occupy the country. These Scots-
men were called Scotch-Irish.
During the seventeenth century these new Scottish set-
tlers were kept in continual uncertainty and danger because
of two strong rebellions which the Irish initiated. Finally, be-
cause of the continued hostility of the Irish toward them,
many of these Scotch-Irish fled to America. Many of the Pres-
byterian churches founded in Ireland in those years still en-
dure, however, especially in the northern part of the country,
which, largely because of its rugged Protestantism, elected to
remain a part of the British Commonwealth rather than accept
domination by the Catholic-oriented Republic of Eire. Those
w r ho migrated came by the thousands every year for several
decades during the eighteenth century and settled in every
American colony. Wherever they went they organized Presby-
terian churches. The prophet who had inspired them was John
Knox, but the gospel they spread and the pattern of church
life which they followed had come first from the mind of
How Presbyterian Churches Are Organized
The government of churches according to the Presby-
terian pattern is neither as monarchical as that of Episcopal
JOHN CALVIN 51
churches, with their bishops, nor Is It as democratic as that of
the Congregational and Baptist churches, where each con-
gregation Is self-governing. The very name, Presbyterian, sug-
gests a government by a chosen few, for the word presbyter
comes from the Greek word presbyteros, often used In the
New Testament meaning elder.
In a local church there Is the minister and a board of
ruling elders, called the session. Both are elected by vote of
the members of the congregation. A second elected governing
body is the board of deacons, who usually distribute the funds
for the charities of the church. There Is also a board of trustees,
required by state law, to manage all business matters.
Anyone wishing to join the church is asked to appear
before the session to be examined orally regarding his faith.
The session Inquires also into his character and habits of life.
On the basis of their findings the session decides whether or
not the person is fitted to become a member of the church.
The churches in a given district are ruled by what is
called the presbytery. This Is composed of the ministers of the
district, with at least one elder representing each church ses-
sion. Three or more presbyteries may unite to form a synod.
The synods, In turn, come under the rule of the general assem-
bly which is the highest national body. Its presiding officer is
called the moderator. This highest governing body is com-
posed of an equal number of ministers and laymen chosen by
Such a system furnishes a well-knit and efficient organiza-
tion in which, at each level, power is vested in groups of chosen
men rather than in single individuals.
What Do Presbyterians Believe?
On the whole Presbyterian churches have "a conservative
habit of mind/' They demand that their ministers and elders
give assent to the Presbyterian statement of faith, called the
Westminster Confession. This document was drawn up in
1647, in famous Westminster Abbey, at the time when Purl-
52 The Church Across the Street
tanism was in power In England. This Confession intends to
set forth the "system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scrip-
tures." "It proclaims the complete sovereignty of God in the
universe, the complete sovereignty of Christ in salvation, the
sovereignty of the Scriptures and the sovereignty of the in-
dividual conscience in the interpretation of the Word of
God/* 5 As an oft-sung hymn puts it, "God is his own inter-
preter, and He will make it plain."
The essentials of this Confession of Faith are more simply
set forth in the Shorter Westminster Catechism, which used
to be committed to memory by all young people who were
regarded as properly prepared for admission into the Church.
Although today in most Presbyterian church schools this
catechism is no longer taught to the children, yet the essential
doctrines found in that ancient catechism still influence the
attitudes of many who write and teach for the church schools.
"No Protestant church has stood more staunchly by its
doctrines than has the Presbyterian, which accounts for the
fact that the most famous of modern heresy trials have taken
place within the Presbyterian Church. In this twentieth cen-
tury we are accustomed to say that doctrine and creed do not
count, that it makes very little difference what a man believes;
but the Presbyterian Church has always said that it does make
a difference." 6
Presbyterian Varieties in the United States
In Scotland, where the Presbyterian Church had become
the state church, there arose a number of divisions. Certain
conscientious objectors arose who refused to sign oaths of
citizenship required or statements of creed to which they could
not subscribe. Most of these small divisions were transplanted
5 William N. Sweet, Our American Churches (New York: Methodist Book
Concern, 1924) , p. 106.
JOHN CALVIN 53
to America, and many of them have survived to the present,
A process of unification has been going on, however, for over
The most recent merger (1958) was that of the Presby-
terian Church In the United States of America and the United
Presbyterian Church of North America, to form the United
Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, a de-
nomination numbering more than 3 million members and
having close to 9,500 churches. Yet unity is still something
more to be hoped for than an accomplished fact, as is shown
by the names given to the two largest remaining divisions
of the Presbyterian Church. The Northern Presbyterians
represent the great merged group just referred to, while the
Southern Presbyterians, with almost a million members, call
themselves the Presbyterian Church in the United States. The
smallest group of all is the Associate Presbyterian Church of
North America with only seven churches and some 500 mem-
At the present time over forty North American colleges
owe their existence to Presbyterian philanthropy, including
several in Canada. There are also a number of excellent Pres-
byterian hospitals that serve the public without regard for
creed, color or financial status. The most famous of these are
in the great medical centers in New York and Chicago. Pres-
byterian work for the American Indians, for Negroes, for
migrant workers, and for children and families crowded in
tenements in our large cities has been notable.
The Presbyterians have long been active also in mission-
ary work in foreign lands. Their primary schools and colleges,
their homes for orphans and famine refugees, their institutions
of healing are to be found on every continent. In cooperation
in world-wide tasks, the Presbyterian Church has shown high
qualities of Christian statesmanship.
54 The Church Across the Street
High Educational Standards
Calvin's concern for popular education and for the edu-
cation of the church's ministers still characterizes the Presby-
terian denomination. The public school system of which our
nation is proud is in no small measure an outgrowth of the
town schools demanded by Calvinistic standards.
The first Presbyterian ministers in this country were
brought over largely from Scotland and Ireland. Relatively
few came from England. Many had degrees from Edinburgh,
St. Andrews or Aberdeen. As New England Puritans migrated
westward, many became Presbyterian. Not a few ministers
among them were graduates of Yale and Harvard. Schools for
the education of ministers in America were early begun, the
first having been established in Pennsylvania. It was called
The Log College, because it was held in a log cabin. In 1746
it was succeeded by the College of New Jersey, situated at
Princeton. In 1896 this became Princeton University. Al-
though this great university no longer trains ministers, one of
the larger Presbyterian seminaries is still located in Princeton.
From the very beginning the Presbyterians have held to
high educational standards for their ministers. While other
denominations often used preachers in the western outposts
who did not have even a grammar school education, the Pres-
byterians usually insisted that all their ministers should have
had a college education and should have studied Greek and
Hebrew, since these were the languages in which the earliest
manuscripts of the Bible were written. Now Presbyterian
ministers must also take a theological course. This emphasis
upon education perhaps accounts for the fact that so many
Biblical scholars have arisen in the Presbyterian ranks.
I 5 II ~ I 553
For my own part I neither agree nor disagree In every particular
with either Catholic or Reformer. Both of them seem to me to
have something of truth and something of error in their views;
and whilst each sees the other's shortcomings, neither sees his own.
God in his goodness give us all to understand our errors and in-
cline us to put them away. It would be easy enough, indeed, to
judge dispassionately of everything, were we but suffered without
molestation by the Churches freely to speak our minds.
He Tried to Reform the Reformers
The year 1492 is a memorable one for all the Americas.
The Spanish monarch, King Ferdinand, and his Queen Isa-
bella, have long been honored because of the help they gave
to Christopher Columbus.
And 1492 is also remembered because of an almost un-
believable tragedy that came that year to thousands of Spanish
subjects. It all came about because of the accepted practice of
that day in almost every European country of requiring the
people to accept the religion of their rulers. Since King Fer-
dinand and Queen Isabella were loyal Catholics, they believed
it to be their duty to force the Roman Catholic religion upon
all their subjects.
Tragedy for Jews and Mohammedans
In Spain at that time, however, there were thousands of
Jews and Mohammedans, both of whom were ardently loyal to
56 The Church Across the Street
their own religions. Although there were many reasons why
neither Jews nor Mohammedans cared to become Christians,
there was one big reason that seemed to make it utterly im-
possible for them to change their religion to Christianity. This
insuperable stumbling block was the belief in God as Trinity.
Both Roman Catholics and Protestants regarded this as an
essential cornerstone of their faith, the belief in God the
Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost (or Spirit). Each
of the three was declared to be equal to the others and all
were eternal, yet the three were but one God. To Jews and
Mohammedans this belief in the Trinity had one meaning,
namely, that there were three gods. Being staunchly mono-
theistic in their faith, these people refused to renounce their
allegiance to their own religions.
For the Jews the climax of their troubles came in the
famous year 1492, when King Ferdinand and Isabella ordered
eight hundred thousand Jews to be banished from the realm.
During the next score of years, thousands of Mohammedans
were also banished. What is even more tragic, among those
who refused to bow the knee to a God in whom they could not
believe, were twenty thousand people who were burned at the
A Spanish Student's Discovery
During these years of barbarous persecution, a young
Spanish lad was growing up in the town of Villaneuva in Ara-
gon. Like all other Spanish boys, he first attended a Roman
Catholic school where he was taught the important principles
and rituals of the Catholic faith. Often on street corners and
at play he heard derogatory comments regarding Jews and
Mohammedans. Michael Servetus was a sensitive, sympathetic
lad, and his heart was torn by the tales of suffering he heard.
Perhaps he even witnessed a burning at the stake, and was
puzzled to understand why anyone should prefer such a death
to saying the Christian creed: "I believe in God the Father,
God the Son and God the Holy Ghost." What did three gods
in one mean anyway? But such questions were never asked at
MICHAEL SERVETUS 57
school. Michael probably scarcely even thought them clearly
in his mind.
When he was seventeen years of age, Michael left home
and crossed the Pyrenees Mountains into France to attend the
University of Toulouse in order to study law. During his first
year of study there he made a great discovery. He found a copy
of the Bible, and for the first time he began reading it for
himself. In all his years in the Roman Catholic school at home,
he had never been allowed to read the Bible. Now it was like
a new and wonderful book to him; and he w r as deeply
impressed by the story of Jesus that he found given in the
Gospels, one so different from the God Jesus Christ who was
worshipped in the church. As Michael read on, his surprise
grew because nowhere could he find the Trinity even men-
When he had finished the book, he decided that the
belief that Jesus Christ was equal and co-eternal with God was
not based on the Scriptures, but w r as an error that the church
had promoted in order to add power to its preaching. Servetus
now saw Jesus as divine in a more natural sort of way, perhaps
more as other good men may also become divine. He could no
longer believe that Jesus was God himself, born before the
foundation of the world.
So, at the ripe age of eighteen, knowing full well that
heretics and unbelievers both in Spain and in France had met
death by the thousands at the hands of spying inquisitors, this
spirited and optimistic young fellow determined to devote his
life in an effort to expose the error of the Trinity, believing
there was something better and more inspiring for Christians
to believe if they could but be led to see that Jesus was more
nearly like themselves and that he became the Son of God
because of the quality of his life and because God so rewarded
him. Servetus believed he had the Scriptures back of his
Another Chance to Learn
By the end of his first year, being in need of funds, Ser-
vetus took a position as a kind of secretary to a Catholic monk,
58 The Church Across the Street
Juan de Quintana, who a little later became Father Confessor
to the Emperor Charles V himself.
This employment brought Servetus another great experi-
ence. He and Juan de Quintana journeyed to Rome in the
Emperor's suite in order to be present at his coronation by the
Pope. There young Servetus saw the supreme pontiff treated
as if he were God himself. The impression made upon Servetus
was still so vivid even years later that he could write:
With these very eyes I saw him [the pope] borne with pomp
on the shoulders of princes, and in the public streets adored by the
whole people kneeling, to such a point that those that succeeded
even in kissing his feet or his shoes deemed themselves happy
beyond the rest. Oh, beast of beasts the most wicked! Most shame-
less of harlots!
And the reason for this revulsion was understandable:
... on the other hand, behind the scenes, he [Servetus] saw
among the highest dignitaries of the Church sickening evidences
of worldliness, selfish ambition, cynical skepticism, and uncon-
cealed immorality. Henceforth the official religion of the Church
seemed to him but a hollow mockery, and the Pope became for him
the very Antichrist predicted in the New Testament. 1
Again when Servetus traveled in the Emperor's suite he
had another remarkable opportunity. This time he attended
the famous Diet at Augsburg, where the leaders of the Protes-
tant Reformation in Germany worked out the statement of
their faith which for years afterwards became the standard by
which heretical beliefs were measured.
He Tried to Reform the Reformers
Soon after this event, Servetus gave up his position with
the monk Quintana and ventured on his own to work out his
x Earl Morse Wilbur, Our Unitarian Heritage (Boston: Beacon Press,
1925) , pp. 55-56 and n.l.
MICHAEL SERVETUS 59
great ambition. Surely, he thought, the Protestant Reformers
would listen. It was fundamental with them to base their faith
on the Scriptures.
Though but nineteen years of age, Servetus sought out
the Protestant leaders in Strassburg and Basel, some of whom
were men twice his age. He set before them his views about the
Trinity in the hope that he might persuade them to revise
their gospel or else convince him of his error. Although the
reformers treated Servetus with courtesy and patience, they
were not easily persuaded to revise this most important article
of the Christian faith.
Refusing to be discouraged, however, Servetus decided
to write his views and publish them, believing that, if people
only understood, they w T ould agree with him. The little book
was called De Trinitatis Erroribus Libri Septem, meaning
Seven Books on the Errors of the Trinity. No publisher in
Strassburg, however, would print the book for him. Still Ser-
vetus persisted and finally found a publisher in Alsace who
w r as willing to run the risk.
He Hides Under an Assumed Name
The book aroused a great deal of attention. It was read
by all the leading reformers. Servetus naively thought it would
surely win acceptance, but instead the reformers, one and all,
denounced it vigorously. Luther called it "an abominably
wicked book." Its sale was forbidden in Basel and Strassburg,
and soon it was suppressed throughout the whole empire. Op-
position became so violent that Servetus soon found himself
penniless and without a friend in Germany. He left Strassburg,
assumed the name of Michel de Villeneuve, and for twenty-
one years Michael Servetus was as a dead man to all who had
What he actually did was to go to Paris where he again
became a student, this time finally pursuing a course in medi-
cine. While studying in Paris he met John Calvin, and he used
60 The Church Across the Street
to engage in arguments with him. Later he established himself
as a practicing physician near Lyons. Soon he achieved such a
reputation that the Archbishop of Vienna Invited him to be-
come his private physician, and for ten or twelve years Dr.
Michel de Villeneuve lived In the midst of the comforts of a
He Ventures on Another Book
Having many leisure hours, the young physician again
became ambitious to write. Quietly for four years he worked
on another book. Under his assumed name he began corre-
sponding with Calvin who was then in Geneva. Servetus still
naively thought he might convert the Protestant leader to his
point of view. He even sent a part of his new manuscript for
Calvin to read and comment upon. The correspondence began
politely, but ended with abusive epithets from both sides.
Of course, Calvin soon realized who this Dr. Michel de
Villeneuve really was, and wrote his friend Farel that if Ser-
vetus ever came to Geneva, and John Calvin had any influence,
the heretic would not get away alive.
Undaunted by Calvin's attitude, and unmindful of the
danger of again exposing his identity, Servetus finished his
book. The title he gave it was Chris tianismi Restitutio, mean-
ing The Restoration of Christianity. Again it was with the
greatest difficulty that he found a publisher. Only by the en-
ticement of a large fee was Servetus able to lure an unknown
printer who could work secretly in a vacant house to take the
risk. Even then the printer refrained from placing his name
on the title page.
He Escapes from Jail
But Michael Servetus boldly signed his own real name to
the book. As he might have himself predicted, as soon as the
Portrait of Michael Sewetus
62 The Church Across the Street
book began to circulate, the Roman Catholic inquisitors
searched out the author and put him in jail to await trial for
In some mysterious way, no one knows just how, Servetus
escaped by night from his captors. The next morning, even
though the prisoner was absent from the courtroom, he was
tried and condemned to be burned to death by a slow fire.
The following day in the public square of Vienne he was
hanged in effigy and then burned in the same fire with all the
copies of the book which could be found.
The agents of the French court did such a thorough job in
ferreting out copies of this Restoration of Christianity that
today only three are known to exist. These are prized not only
because of their high value for the history of Christianity, but
also for another quite surprising reason. This brilliant young
physician had, quite casually, introduced an illustration into
the text of his book. This was an account of his own discovery
of the circulation of the blood through the lungs. In this dis-
covery Michael Servetus was seventy-five years ahead of the
great Englishman, William Harvey, who first conclusively
demonstrated the course of the blood through the entire body.
His Arrest and Trial in Geneva
Again Dr. Michel de Villeneuve was a fugitive. For four
months he wandered in the general direction of Naples. Un-
fortunately, he had to pass through Geneva and arrived on a
Sunday. Since the law of the city required attendance at
church, he went with the crowd to hear Calvin preach. Even
before the sermon began, he was recognized, perhaps by Calvin
himself. At any rate, Servetus was arrested then and there. So
once more he found himself languishing in prison, awaiting
trial for heresy, this time by Protestants.
At first, Servetus did not worry overmuch for he still
believed he could defend his position in such a way as to be
convincing. He knew also that Calvin was having other trou-
MICHAEL SERVETUS 63
bles of his own, for with a large and vocal minority Calvin was
very unpopular. Some of them openly sided with Servetus.
The trial dragged on for weeks. Some of Calvin's staunch-
est supporters brought charges against Servetus and others
of Calvin's opponents took up the cudgels In the prisoner's
behalf. Calvin's authority seemed to be challenged. He came
himself Into the court and brought his charges directly. He
had a copy of the Restoration of Christianity Introduced and
read. Calvin called Servetus' Ideas, "Partly Impious blasphe-
mies, partly profane and insane errors, and all wholly foreign
to the Word of God and the orthodox faith." Calvin spared no
effort to bring about the heretic's conviction.
In the end Calvin had to make one compromise. The
court decided to lay the whole matter before the other Swiss
churches before coming to a decision. There were, therefore,
more weeks of waiting. The jail was a filthy place. Servetus
became 111 and wrote a letter to the city council complaining
that the vermin were eating him alive and that he had had no
change of clothing since his confinement.
His Painful Death
Finally, the replies came back from the churches. Due
partly perhaps to propaganda from Geneva, the unanimous
verdict was guilty. In the face of these reports, excommunica-
tion or death were the only possible outcomes. Still Servetus
was hopeful that his Protestant brethren would be more
lenient than the Roman Catholics in France had been. When,
therefore, he heard the verdict that he should be burned at
the stake, the weary man broke down. But it was not for having
to die that his heart failed him. It was rather the fear that in
the agony of suffering he might recant, and not prove himself
a true "disciple like his Master/'
The last morning, William Farel went to jail and begged
the prisoner to renounce his errors and so save himself. In-
stead, October 27, 1553, outside the city of Geneva, in the
64 The Church Across the Street
presence of both friends and enemies, Michael Servetus was
bound to a stake with two of his books tied to his waist and a
crown of straw and brimstone on his head. Then the fagots
The Unquenchable Flame
Almost immediately the news of Servetus 3 martyrdom
brought bitter criticism upon Calvin's head. As for discussions
on the truth of the Trinity, these continued. It took men a
long time to learn that flames kindled by burning men along
with their books are not easily quenched. The human voices
are stilled, but the issues are not consumed. Servetus was by no
means the first or the only man in his time who was protesting
against belief in the Trinity, or who was trying to persuade
the Reformers to honor greater freedom of expression, and his
martyrdom tended to incite more interest in the issue rather
than to dull it.
It is not known just when the word "Unitarian" was first
applied to those who opposed the Trinitarian belief; it is
known that during this sixteenth century the movement by
that name spread into a number of countries of Europe. Al-
though after Servetus' death Protestants seldom condemned
heretics to the stake, there were many heretics who were
exiled. Because of this persecution, the seeds of the movement
were scattered. For a time in Poland, Unitarians were in the
majority. In Transylvania, which then included Hungary and
Rumania, Francis David became an able champion of the
cause. Through his influence, King Sigismund was converted
and Unitarianism became the state religion of Transylvania
and continued as such until recent times.
Whatever our own convictions may be, all believers in
freedom of religion owe a debt to these courageous men. What
they were willing to purchase with so great a price of blood
and treasure was not simply freedom to deny certain ancient
beliefs. They were affirming with all their minds and hearts the
right of men to believe in a religion consistent with reason and
MICHAEL SERVETUS 65
with the Holy Scriptures, untrammeled by the tyranny of
higher ecclesiastical authority. Theirs was a faith in man him-
self, as well as in God.
Charming s Famous Sermon
To most dwellers in Baltimore in the year 1819, it was
just another quiet Sunday morning in May when William
Ellery Channing, the famous Boston minister, was to preach
and to share in the ordination of young Mr. Jared Sparks as
minister in the recently organized First Independent Church
of that city. Those who heard the great Dr. Channing, how-
ever, were w r ell aware that they were witnessing a significant
event. For some years the liberals and the orthodox in the
Congregational churches of New England had been growing
apart. Dr. Channing and those of like belief had been the
objects of much public and bitter criticism. Although on most
occasions, he was a gentle, peace-loving character, in his
sermon that morning he became the champion of the liberal
Taking up one by one the distinguishing beliefs of Uni-
tarians, he showed how they were supported both by reason
and by the Scriptures. The Trinity he said was difficult to
understand and without foundation in the Bible. He de-
nounced in eloquent language the Calvinistic belief in a God
who would "bring us to life wholly depraved ... [so that] the
child [endowed with] a ceaseless tendency to unmingled crime
[would be subject] to ... everlasting damnation." Likewise he
condemned the idea of predestination, the belief that God
"selects from this corrupt mass of mankind a number to be
saved/' all the rest of humanity being "born under the blight-
ing curse" of future everlasting torment in hell. Such a God,
Channing said, would be "a being whom we cannot love if we
66 The Church Across the Street
would, and whom we ought not to love if we could/' Such
beliefs he declared were creations of the theologians and not
to be gotten from the Bible. What the Bible taught could be
understood only by the use of the same intelligence we apply
to other matters.
Unitarians Declare Their Independence
Reports of this sermon were published far and wide.
Probably no sermon preached in America up to that time had
so many readers and so great an influence. It has often been
called "the Unitarian Declaration of Independence." It pre-
cipitated a break in the Congregational churches of New Eng-
land, between the orthodox and the liberal or Unitarian
The seeds of Unitarianism had been in the Mayflower
Compact, and were nourished in the democratic atmosphere
pervading the autonomous individual Congregational
churches. With the end of the American Revolution, free re-
ligious thinking had begun to flourish.
Strangely enough, the first church in America to become
Unitarian was the oldest Episcopalian Church in New Eng-
land King's Chapel in Boston. As early as 1782 this church
called the Rev. James Freeman to be its pastor, a man openly
holding the Unitarian belief. Under his leadership, the church
eliminated from its Book of Common Prayer all references to
the Trinity and all prayers to Christ.
A few years later, the first churches to be called by the
name Unitarian were organized in Northumberland, Penn-
sylvania, and in Philadelphia. Dr. Joseph Priestley, noted dis-
coverer of oxygen and a Unitarian minister in England, be-
came their leader. After a number of years of distinguished
and unmolested service in England as minister in two large
churches, Dr. Priestley had been attacked by a mob that had
burned his meetinghouse, his home, his laboratory, and had
destroyed all his books and manuscripts. Dr. Priestley, know-
ing that the mob had been secretly encouraged by high author-
The Old Ship Church meetinghouse in Hingham, Massachusetts,
was built in 1681 as a Congregational church. In 1718 it turned
Unitarian when Ebenezer Gay became its minister. Note the
"widow's walk" around the small bell tower. (Ewing Galloway)
68 The Church Across the Street
ities in the Church of England, realized that imprisonment
might be the next step; and to save his life he found refuge
in America. With the same heroism with which he had faced
persecution in his native land, Dr. Priestley faced in this coun-
try the more intangible but none-the-less intense fires of fanat-
About this same time, the oldest Church of the Pilgrims
in Plymouth and its parish voted overwhelmingly for a Uni-
tarian ministry. Year by year other Congregational churches
began taking similar steps, and so the movement gathered
momentum. Within a score of years over one-third of the Con-
gregational churches in Massachusetts had become Unitarian.
Many other churches in other parts of New England joined
the seceders. Only in Connecticut was the secession stemmed,
and that was accomplished by disciplinary measures used by
higher regional authorities.
Serious as the loss of ministers and members was to the
Congregational churches, the loss of church property to many
liberal groups added greatly to the bitterness. When the Rev.
Henry Ware, Unitarian minister in Hingham, was elected to
the chair of divinity at Harvard University, the storm burst.
Dr. Jedidiah Morse, father of Samuel Morse, inventor of the
telegraph, began organizing the orthodox ministers for a fight.
In his magazine, called the Panoplist, he incessantly attacked
the anti-Trinitarians and challenged them to open debate. As
the liberals in turn became bolder and expressed their views
openly in their pulpits, the conflict raged with increased ill
Charming Champions Social Causes
Channing's fight, however, was not merely against Cal-
vinistic theology. He never hesitated to take a vigorous stand
against all forms of selfish exploitation, because to him the
spirit of man was of infinite worth. Slavery inspired him with
horror, for as a youth in Virginia he had seen it in operation.
His courageous statements from his Boston pulpit caused con-
MICHAEL SERVETUS 69
siderable furore, since New England cotton mills were at that
time dependent on slave labor.
War to Channing was the greatest of human follies, and
he did all he could to advance the cause of peace, yet he was
no pacifist, and once remarked heatedly, ". . . sometimes we
must fight." Intemperance also he believed debased the human
spirit, and he stoutly opposed it. Education was a forge in
which nobler and more useful characters might be hammered
out; so he did what he could to improve the schools and the
training of teachers. He had great hopes for the French Rev-
olution of 1830. He passionately desired the liberation of
mankind from all kinds of tyranny. When a young Harvard
student, noting Channing's unquenchable enthusiasms, re-
marked, "You seem to be the only young man I know/' the
older man replied warmly, "Always young for liberty!"
Unitarianism in Europe and in England
Although Channing was one of the great pioneers of the
Unitarian Church in America, he was by no means the only
one. The development of the movement in Europe and in
England antedated him by three and a half centuries.
In Switzerland there was Michael Servetus, whose martyr-
dom in 1553 lit a flame for freedom that persecution has never
extinguished. A few years later came two Italians, Laelius
Socinus and his nephew Faustus Socinus, who so influenced
the development of anti-trinitarian thought in Poland that a
strong Unitarian church was established there which flour-
ished for nearly a hundred years until it was ruthlessly blotted
out by the bitter persecution of the Jesuits. In Transylvania
was the great Francis David, who was the means of converting
the king of the country to the Unitarian faith and who made
the Unitarian Church the state Church of his land, but who
also proclaimed freedom of worship to other sects.
Even in England the growth of Unitarian beliefs has had
its coterie of martyrs. John Biddle, sometimes called "the
Father of English Unitarianism," spent more than six years
70 The Church Across the Street
in prison because of his faith. For many years those who made
known their belief in one God rather than in the Trinity were
ostracized by both Roman Catholics and Protestants. Until
1813 the Blasphemy Act made it impossible for one who de-
nied the Trinity to hold any civil office. The struggle for civil,
mental and spiritual freedom made by such seventeenth-cen-
tury reformers as John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrims who
fled to the Netherlands, fed directly into Unitarianism.
Unitarian National Organizations
The year 1825, by an unintentional coincidence, became
a red-letter year for Unitarians on both sides of the Atlantic,
for in that year both in England and in America, national
Unitarian organizations were formed. In both countries
these organizations are democratic societies representing the
churches and supported by them. They also lead in movements
regarded as important to the cause of liberal religion.
Until the merger of Unitarians and Universalists, finally
accomplished in May 1961, the American Unitarian Associa-
tion had its headquarters in Boston. Now its functions are
continued by the Unitarian Universalist Association, also in
Boston. The elected president of this association, its officers
and committees, respond to the will of the united denomina-
tions, and care for those matters which are of common concern.
They assist young churches, plan for the education of minis-
ters, guide the educational work of the churches, and prepare
literature of many kinds.
The Unitarians and Universalists together number about
800 churches in the United States and Canada, and there are
also several hundred fellowships. The latter are led by laymen
and are not yet eligible to assume church status, since they are
not large enough to be self-supporting. The combined mem-
bership of the two denominations is about 180,000. Unitarians
in Great Britain claim about 400 churches, but their churches
tend to be smaller than those in America. Nevertheless, there
have been many eminent English Unitarians.
MICHAEL SERVETUS 7 1
What Do Unitarians Now Believe?
Just as the Trinitarians gained their name from a belief
in the Trinity, so Unitarians were given their name because
of their insistence on the unity of God. This belief has had as
its natural corollary, a belief in the humanity of Jesus. In dif-
ferent times and with different Unitarians this belief in Jesus'
humanity has been expressed in different ways, some of which
do not differ in actual meaning from beliefs held by many
ministers and members of other Protestant churches.
This one original protest, however, has now become but
a symbol of the attitude of mind out of which this protest
developed. It is usually described as the "free spirit" which
refuses to be checked in its search for truth by the demand
for adherence to a creed stated by an ecclesiastical authority
as necessary to membership in the church. Consequently, the
bond that unites Unitarians is not a statement of a common
faith, but rather the spiritual fellowship that is found in the
sincere use of reason and the scientific attitude in the quest
for truth, and in the consciousness of a common purpose to
live for "the ennoblement and enrichment of human life."
This accent on the use of reason has been so strong that
Unitarians have often been accused of being intellectual and
cold. Their refusal to form a common creedal statement has
laid them open to the charge that they have no beliefs to sup-
port and strengthen them, and that there is nothing inspiring
for which the church stands. These charges, however, do not
adequately represent the character of the Unitarian fellow-
ship. Unitarians have as strong beliefs as others, but they do
not insist that they have found "final" truth. Uniformity in
beliefs they do not regard as essential, and some indeed go so
far as to assert that God exists only as a kind of Supreme Good
in the hearts of men. Such Unitarians are usually known as
"Humanists." Worship and the traditional practices of reli-
gion interest them much less than religion as a force in human
progress. But all Unitarians vigorously reject the old orthodox
belief in man's natural sinful nature.
Had he realized it, Abraham Lincoln might have found
72 The Church Across the Street
himself at home in a Unitarian church, 2 for he said: "When
any church will inscribe over its altar, as the sole qualification
for membership the Saviour's condensed statement of the sub-
stance of both Law and Gospel, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy
God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy
mind, and thy neighbor as thyself that church will I join with
all my heart and with all my soul."
Influential Character of the Unitarian Movement
Although the Unitarian Church has not been a large
denomination either in England or in America, yet it has had
in its membership a disproportionately large number of edu-
cated and famous people in the fields of letters, politics, social
reform, education and science. Consequently, the Unitarian
Church has influenced cultural change more strongly than its
numerical size would suggest. The combined Protestant de-
nominations in the United States have nearly 70 per cent of
the total membership of the Christian churches, while the
Unitarians have less than 1 per cent of the total. Yet in the
American Hall of Fame at New York University, a score of the
seventy-two statues are of Unitarians.
Among noted American writers and poets have been the
following Unitarians: Henry W. Longfellow, Nathaniel Haw-
thorne, James Russell Lowell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry
Thoreau, Julia Ward Howe, Louisa May Alcott and William
Cullen Bryant. Thomas Jefferson hoped that some day every-
body would be Unitarian. A few of the most noted American
scientists who have felt able to worship in Unitarian Churches
have been Charles Steinmetz, Louis Agassiz and Robert Mil-
likan. Among the educators and social reformers have been
some of the greatest Unitarian names Horace Mann, Ezra
Cornell, Charles W. Eliot, Peter Cooper, Dorothea Dix, Susan
B. Anthony and Elizabeth Peabody.
2 It is known that Lincoln was a close friend of a number of the men who
founded the Unitarian Church of Bloomington, Illinois, and that he often
attended its services.
MICHAEL SERVETUS 73
Most of the social reforms and philanthropic movements
that have been started or carried forward by Unitarians have
not been given names to indicate their church connections, so
that the source of their inspiration is often unknown. There
are no Unitarian hospitals or colleges, although there are two
theological schools, Starr King on the Pacific Coast and Mead-
ville, originally in Pennsylvania, but now on the campus of
the University of Chicago. Harvard Divinity School, founded
by Unitarians, has a number of Unitarian professors and
There has been an outstanding benevolent organization,
however, at work during the last two world wars and denomi-
nationally set up. It is called the Unitarian Service Committee,
Inc. Its aim has been whenever possible to help people help
themselves. Teams of doctors have been sent out to train native
medical workers, medical personnel from abroad have been
brought to the United States for further study, institutes to
train social workers have been sponsored in postwar Germany,
Italy and Greece, and an educational program for native
teachers has been set up in Cambodia. For several years the
Committee administered all homes for displaced children in
the British Zone in occupied Germany. Emergency help has
been given in Hungary and Korea, and aid has been given a
hospital in the Peruvian jungles, operated by a physician dis-
ciple of Albert Schweitzer. In the United States much work
has been done for the Navaho Indians in New Mexico. Thus,
throughout the world, this organization has given thousands
of men and women a new opportunity and thousands of
children have been fed, clothed and given the encouragement
of loving care.
The World-Wide Spread of Unitarianism
Although Unitarianism has never been a proselyting re-
ligion, the number of Unitarian churches has been steadily
increasing and Unitarians can be found in many lands, in-
cluding Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. A
74 The Church Across the Street
few years ago a Congregational Church in Samoa asked, on its
own initiative, for membership in the American Unitarian
Liberal groups in Europe are scattered but steadily grow-
ing stronger. Churches have been springing up, particularly in
Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland. Numerous
churches dot Rumania and Hungary. The Unitarian move-
ment in Czechoslovakia, founded as recently as 1921, has been
vigorous and growing.
"Unitarianism is, today, the second most powerful religion
in Iceland, a one time Lutheran stronghold. . . . Bringing into
closer union and co-ordinating into one great movement the efforts
of these and other liberal churches throughout the world is the
International Association for Liberal Christianity and Religious
Freedom. The churches affiliated with it represent some twenty
million people." 3
3 John Nicholls Booth, Introducing Unitarianism (pamphlet of the
American Unitarian Association, No. 375, Boston, 1945) , pp. 23-24.
I, Ignatius Loyola, promise to Almighty God and to the Pope, His
Vicar upon earth, before His Virgin Mother and the whole court
of Heaven, and in the presence of the Society, perpetual poverty,
chastity and obedience, according to the manner of life set forth
in the Bull of the Society of Our Lord Jesus, and in the Constitu-
tions declared or to be promulgated, of the same Society. Moreover,
I promise special obedience to the Supreme Pontiff with regard to
the missions mentioned in the Bull, and likewise to be diligent to
see that children are taught the rudiments of the faith, according
to the same Bull and Constitutions.
Vow taken by Ignatius Loyola and all the Company of Jesus
"Onward, Christian Soldier!"
When Knighthood Was in Flower
Another Spaniard, who later became significant in Chris-
tian history, was living his boyhood while Columbus was sail-
ing the seas. Inigo de Loyola, born, it is thought, in 1491 near
the village of Aspeitia in northern Spain, was given his early
education in the court school of Queen Isabella. There he
learned the routines of reading and writing and the funda-
mentals of the Catholic faith. The Duke and Duchess of the
Castle of Loyola little dreamed of the kind of fame their
youngest son would eventually achieve.
In the daily regimes o the castle they were training him,
as all his brothers had been trained, to be a brave knight. Inigo
76 The Church Across the Street
enjoyed the thrill of horseback riding, of charging with drawn
sword against an imaginary enemy, of practice fighting in a
coat of armor. He also enjoyed gambling, feasting, rowdy
drinking. His greatest ambition was to become a dashing
cavalier for a certain lovely lady of the Queen's court. He
dreamed of himself as a chivalrous knight of great renown.
Opportunities were at hand for just such a life. France
and Spain were at war. The city of Pamplona, only fifty miles
away from Loyola, became the place of battle. A small garrison
was trying to hold the castle there, and Inigo became one of
their young captains. The Spaniards were ill prepared; his
superiors finally advised surrender. Inigo's Spanish blood was
hot, and his honor was at stake. From the ramparts where he
stood under fire beside his men, he called back, "We fight on!"
The wall was breached. A cannon ball shattered Captain
Loyola's right leg. He collapsed. The castle was taken.
For ten days as a prisoner of war, Loyola was nursed by
his enemies. By litter they carried him back to his father's
castle. The setting of the bones was bungled. With no an-
esthetics the leg was twice reset; a piece of the bone had to be
sawed off. It was a matter of pride with Inigo not to flinch or
cry out. He lay helpless in bed for many months.
New Dreams Replace the Old
During the tedious days of slow recovery, he asked for
books to read about knights and ladies, but the only books that
were to be found in the castle were religious. One was a life of
Christ and the other had the quaint title, Flowers of the Saints.
At first, Inigo had little interest. He preferred to daydream of
knights and ladies, but slowly the books conquered his dreams.
He began to picture another kind of courage, such as he found
in Jesus and in the lives of the saints. Inigo began to wonder,
"How would it be if I were ever to become like St. Francis or
St. Dominic?" In his dreaming, Inigo saw two flags, one be-
longing to Christ and the other belonging to the Devil. In his
Ignatius Loyola, as seen in a painting by the great Flemish artist,
Peter Paul Rubens. (The Bettmann Archive)
78 The Church Across the Street
heart, he finally enlisted under the banner of Christ. Inigo
would "do great things" not for the love of his lady fair, but
"for the love of God." He would be a soldier of Jesus.
But how? He was already thirty years old. He had but
little education. He could not read Latin. It seemed late to
begin something entirely new but not too late. He would
try. Perhaps he might go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, convert
the Mohammedans, and visit places Jesus had made holy by
A Knight for Christ
His family were out of sympathy with Inigo's new am-
bitions. He could not speak with them about his new dreams.
He made his plans in secret. When his leg was finally well
enough so that he could walk about, he said good-by, giving
his family the impression that he was leaving for a short visit
with friends. Dressed in his knightly cape and short breeches,
and with sword and dagger at his side, he rode out the castle
gate on the back of a mule.
At the town of Montserrat, he bought some rough cloth,
the kind from which sacks are made. He had a tailor sew him
a plain garment that could be tied about his waist with a rope
girdle. He bought also a staff, a calabash and a pair of sandals.
With this strange new outfit in a bundle on his shoulders,
the young knight climbed the hill to the Benedictine monas-
tery where for a number of days the monks gave him hospitali-
ty. There he opened up his heart to the Abbot and sought for
his wisdom. With the other monks and also alone in his room,
he spent many hours in prayer. With great earnestness he made
confession of his sins to the Abbot. Finally he spent three
whole days in writing down all the sins he could remember
that he had ever committed. He was determined to start anew
the book of his life with pages made clean by God's forgiveness.
At last he was at peace and prepared to come before the Holy
Mother herself whose famous image stood beside the altar in
the little chapel of the monastery.
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 79
His Vows Before the Holy Mother
He ordered his mule taken away. He clothed himself in
the sackcloth garment and sandals. At dusk on March 24, 1522,
he went alone to the chapel, carrying his sword and dagger in
one hand, and his former blue mantle and breeches and yellow
stockings and knightly cap over his other arm. In front of the
chapel he gave an astonished tramp the knightly clothes no
longer needed. Entering the chapel, Inigo hung his sword and
dagger alongside the statue of the Virgin, as another symbol of
the life he was determined to renounce. All night long stand-
ing or on his knees, he paid homage to the Queen of Heaven,
seeking her blessing. At daybreak, this newly enlisted soldier
of Jesus, stole quietly away in the direction of Barcelona.
Limping on his still tender foot, he began his pilgrimage,
hoping some day to reach the Holy Land.
As Inigo walked along over the hills, he made yet another
decision. He would change his name to that of one of the
Christian martyrs of whom he had read while convalescing in
the castle. It would no longer be Inigo Loyola, son of a
duke of the Basque country. It would be Ignatius Loyola, the
pilgrim, who had embraced "poverty with Jesus Christ poor,
rather than riches; shame and insults with Jesus Christ re-
proached and insulted, rather than honours; the reputation of
a fool with Jesus Christ mocked and scorned, rather than a
great name for wisdom among men/' 1
For ten months Ignatius Loyola lived as an unknown
beggar in the town of Manresa, not being able to go on toward
Barcelona because of the plague. By turns he lived in the poor-
house, in a cell given him by the Benedictine monks, and in
a cave on the hillside. He begged his bread in the streets,
giving away to the sick and hungry whatever was beyond his
own simple needs. In penance he scourged himself three times
a day. He spent eight hours a day in prayer. This once fas-
tidious knight even let his fingernails grow long and his hair
remain uncut and uncombed.
1 James Brodrick, The Origin of the Jesuits (London, 1940) , pp. 21-22
80 The Church Across the Street
His Spiritual Exercises
With all his striving, however, Ignatius failed to find
peace of heart. His long hours of devotion and his privations
brought him twice to the gates of death. Later, however, he
learned more wisdom, and abandoned these extremes in as-
ceticism. Although he always lived simply and begged his
food, his love of order and cleanliness prevailed. Once more
he cut his hair and nails. He did not feel obliged to rise in the
middle of the night for prayers. He found his own soul blessed
while nursing the sick and while teaching children and peasant
women, as well as when he knelt in prayer. He learned that
true self-denial is not to be found in externals of dress and
ritual. He would live for the love of Christ with people and
not separate himself from them.
Ignatius, however, did not abandon his devotions. He
became a skilled and practical technician in the promotion of
the soul's inner resources. During these early months of his
new life, he wrote down for himself and for others, detailed
directions so that hours spent in prayer might yield the most
in repentance, peace and strength. These directions were later
published in a book called Spiritual Exercises. To follow them
meant a rigorous and exacting regime lasting a month, and
became a kind of initiation into the way of life for other
soldiers of Jesus, who followed Ignatius' leadership.
On leaving Manresa, Ignatius begged his way to Barce-
lona, to Rome, to Venice. By galley ship and sailing vessel and
over land on foot, he wended his way until after six long
months "with more than mortal joy" he beheld Jerusalem.
His dream of remaining there the rest of his life in order
to convert the Mohammedans came to naught, however, for
the Franciscan monks refused to allow him to stay. So the
disappointed crusader turned his back on his hopes and
begged his return passage to Spain.
Ignatius Goes to School
Ignatius now realized that if he were to become a worthy
soldier of Christ, fitted to teach others the way of life, he
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 81
should be .better educated. So even though already thirty-two
years old, this irrepressible Spaniard started to school and sat
on benches alongside boys in their early teens and tried to
repeat the Latin declensions. For the next ten years he studied
in several colleges in succession, going finally to the University
of Paris where in 1535 he received the degree of Master of
Out of class hours, he begged bread or money as before.
In the evenings, he would often seek out people in the slums
of Paris, those poorer than himself, and too timid to beg. He
would "press on them sweetly and humbly the coins he had
collected in the streets/* 2 At other spare times, he would have
informal classes of his own when he discussed with his fellow
students the Christian way of life and taught the Spiritual
Exercises. In changing his own way of life, Ignatius apparently
did not forfeit his knightly charms. One of his disciples writ-
ing of how Loyola won friends said:
By I know not what means he so much became their friend,
so imperceptibly stole into their souls, that by his example and his
slow pleasant speech he kindled in them all a vehement love of
His Virtue a Weakness
Sometimes, however, his trust in others was greater than
his wisdom. On one occasion, when a student at Montaigu
College in Paris, he loaned all his money to a fellow student,
who speedily spent it and failed to repay anything. So Ignatius
had to move to the poorhouse, which was so far from college
that he frequently missed his first classes, which came at five
in the morning.
But such things as early classes and unpaid loans were
not all Ignatius had to worry about. Students there were di-
8 Simon Rodriguez, Epistolae Broeti f Monumenta Historica Societatis
Jesu, quoted in ibid., pp. 38-39.
82 The Church Across the Street
vided into two groups, the rich and the poor. Life was not easy
for either, but for the poor it was especially hard. In the winter
all they were given was "a morsel of bread . . . and as for their
drink, they must draw out of a well of bad water. . . . Nor shall
I take notice how many rotten eggs were eaten nor how much
sour wine was drunk/' 4
Since Loyola was completely orthodox in his faith, it
seems strange that he should have had trouble with the in-
quisitors. But his excess of zeal (which was indeed sometimes
almost fanatic), and his unconventional manner of dress, and
the fact that without being ordained as a priest he presumed
to teach other people, awakened suspicion. Some of his ac-
cusers may have been jealous of his success. Since on examina-
tion, no one could ever find anything unorthodox in his be-
liefs, Loyola was always acquitted and after a brief confine-
ment freed from prison.
The First Company of Jesus
During his ten years as a student, Loyola won a group of
devoted disciples, who like himself, took the vows of lifelong
poverty and chastity. There were nine of these disciples by the
time he completed his university studies. These men thought
of themselves as soldiers of Jesus, who had enlisted for life in
his service. They chose the name Company of Jesus. As soon
as all had finished their studies, they planned to go to Rome to
seek permission of the Pope to go to Jerusalem as missionaries
to the Turks. But if His Holiness decided they were more
needed elsewhere, they resolved to be willing to go anywhere
in the world the Vicar of Christ might command them to go.
When studies were finished, however, Loyola was ill and
was ordered by his doctor to convalesce in the balmy air of his
native Spain. So he bade good-by to his nine disciples, presum-
ably to return to his brother's castle, where it was hoped he
4 Desiderius Erasmus, Colloquies, quoted by Paul Van Dyke in his Zg-
natius Loyola (New York, 1926) , p. 79.
At the left, Loyola kneels before Pope Paul HI. At the right, he is
shown writing his Religious Exercises and sending forth his mis-
sionaries. (The Bettmann Archive)
84 The Church A cross the Street
might regain his health. Meanwhile the other nine, as soon as
they were ready, were to move on toward Rome where Loyola
hoped to meet them in a few months.
Instead of going to live in the comfort of the family castle,
however, Loyola, to his brother's consternation, sought lodg-
ings in the poorhouse of the village of Aspitia. But Ignatius
had a reason. He wanted to do something to better the lives
of the villagers and so to make amends for the dissolute life he
had lived there as a young man.
He announced early in his stay he would teach classes
for the children and for any others, men and women, who
cared to come. "Nobody will come to your classes/' said his
brother Martin in scorn. "One is enough for me/' answered
Ignatius. Scores came. Being a little man like Zacchaeus, Igna-
tius would sometimes climb a tree and sit on a branch above
the people so that all could see him. In practical ways also he
helped to improve the life of the village. He organized a kind
of cooperative and regular system of relief for those who were
unable to work.
A New Order Is Sanctioned
Many more months passed before Loyola joined his nine
disciples in the city of Rome. They sought the Pope's permis-
sion to found a new society, dedicated to the service of Jesus
and the Church, whatever that service might be. This permis-
sion was obtained with difficulty, since some of the cardinals
who advised the Pope thought there were already too many
monastic orders, and others were jealous of the success which
Loyola and his companions were having with the common
The influence and power of the society grew. Money was
often hard to find, yet somehow gifts always came in when
they were most needed. Wherever these soldiers of Christ went
they sought out those sick and in distress. They nursed men
with leprosy and others smitten with the plague. They found
food for the hungry and clothes for those who were cold. Those
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 85
whom they taught were for the most part people whom the
church, with its wealth and power, seemed to have forgotten.
So the poor and humble heard these sixteenth-century dis-
ciples of Jesus gladly, as they had heard Jesus himself fifteen
hundred years before.
As the new order found friends, so also it found recruits.
At first the papal charter had limited membership to sixty, but
this restriction was soon lifted when the usefulness of the
society to the church became evident. Standards of admission
were set high. No one younger than fourteen nor older than
twenty-five was considered for admission. The order was offi-
cially named The Society of Jesus.
Conditions of Membership
Nor was it easy to qualify for full membership. Two years
of probation were required, and eight years of work in a col-
lege or university. Before taking the final vows, candidates
were obliged to give up all their property, for Loyola knew
that "where a man's treasure is, there will his heart be also."
Like all priests and nuns of the Roman Catholic church,
Jesuits were sworn to chastity.
To Loyola it seemed that members of other monastic
orders were limited in their usefulness by the rigid require-
ments of a special garb, and that by withdrawing from the
affairs of the world, and by leading sheltered lives within their
cloisters, they lessened their usefulness. Complete poverty and
austere self-denial were a part of their monastic vows, yet not
a few of them soon became lax and soft in their manner of
living. Worse than that, many led lives of vice, and the com-
mon people knew it. In some orders the chief interest seems to
have been to collect their rents, for many became wealthy
Loyola realized that the greatest dangers which threaten-
ed the church came from the evils within, rather than from its
enemies without. He, therefore, prepared the Constitution of
the Company of Jesus with great care. Members, either in-
86 The Church Across the Street
dividually or collectively, were forbidden to hold property, or
to accept honors (such as bishoprics) within the church, or to
accept fees for anything they did. 5 He bade them "avoid any
sort of avarice." They could not even have collection boxes in
their churches. He wished them to be as free as possible to go
anywhere at any time, on missions for the church.
The vow of absolute and unquestioning obedience to
their superior in the Company and to the Pope, as the "Vicar
of Christ" on earth, was taken with great seriousness. Obedi-
ence should be "perinde cadaver," meaning "with as little
objection as a dead man wmild make." If the church should
officially say that black is white, said Loyola, members of the
Company of Jesus were bound to believe it. For to Loyola, the
soldier, obedience was as necessary in the ranks of those who
fought the church's battles as for those in the armies of any
The Growth of the Order
Loyola intended also that the Jesuits should be a mis-
sionary order. The work of teaching was to him of equal im-
portance with that of benevolence and care of the sick. As a
result these Soldiers of Jesus have gone to the far corners of
the earth. One of Loyola's earliest disciples, Francis Xavler,
traveled to the Orient and baptized converts in many parts of
India and in the Malay Islands. He even did some work in
China and Japan.
The Company of Jesus, which in time numbered its
soldiers by the thousands, was a body of well educated, able
and devoted men under a military leadership, which was al-
ways at the disposal of the church.
They founded many colleges and universities in Europe.
Since many of the students studying in these institutions were
often of noble birth, the support they later gave to the work of
5 The prohibition of property-holding did not extend to Jesuit institu-
tions 3 although the property they hold must be administered by lay trustees.
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 87
the order was of great value. Other Jesuits became influential
in the courts of kings and princes, and thus gained power in
determining the policies of governments toward the church.
It Becomes a Counter Re-formation
These devoted Jesuits perhaps did more than any other
group or organization to check the rising tide of the Reforma-
tion, which threatened to sweep most of Europe into the
Protestant fold. Because of their influence, Unitarianism in
Poland was utterly wiped out, and relentless persecution left
the Protestant movement much weakened throughout the
whole of Central Europe.
Thus Ignatius Loyola became significant as the leader of
a powerful counter-reformation which checked the spread of
the Protestant Reformation by strengthening the missionary
zeal and effectiveness of the Roman Catholic Church and by
cleansing it of some of its grossest moral abuses.
Its Weakness and Its Power
Success and pow r er, however, often bring disaster, and
thus it has been with the Company of Jesus. The Jesuits came
to believe that the end justified the means, even though the
means were evil. The Order as a result became deeply involved
in political schemes and intrigue, although such activities
were opposed to the teachings of their founder. Some of the
Jesuits quarreled with other Roman Catholic orders, and so
brought on themselves the dislike of many within the church.
Their worst mistake was to engage in commercial trading on a
large scale in violation of their own constitutional rule. This
eventually brought financial loss to many investors, and finally
feeling against the Jesuits became so bitter that the Pope him-
self suppressed the Order in 1773, although the ban was lifted
Even during the period of suppression, the Society of
88 The Church Across the Street
Jesus refused to die, and It is still strong. It has a number of
colleges and universities in the United States, and the number
is growing. Marquette, St. Louis and Fordham universities, as
well as a number of institutions which bear Loyola's name, are
examples. LeMoyne is one of the newest and, unlike most
Jesuit colleges, is coeducational. The initials S.J. after the
name of a priest or university teacher, stand for Society of
Jesus. There have been Jesuit scholars of note in many fields.
They have excelled in mathematics and astronomy particu-
larly, yet as a Society, they have resisted the impact of new
ideas on the accepted beliefs of the church. Religion which
was so dynamic a force in their living, became a shackling one
to their thinking.
Of Loyola, one of his pupils said that few great men have
had so few ideas, but fewer still have been as thoroughly
earnest in their realization. Without the work of Ignatius
Loyola and his Society the great Roman Catholic Church
might have fallen apart, and Protestantism might have gather-
ed more strength. Because he lived the ancient church remains
a powerful and world-wide institution, but one in w r hich
liberty of religious thought is circumscribed within the frame-
work of creeds and traditions, and the declarations of the Pope.
The Roman Catholic Church
Two Meanings of the Word Catholic
The majority of Protestants repeat the so-called Apostles'
Creed in their church services. In this creed there is the phrase:
"I believe ... in the holy catholic church." In this statement,
the words "catholic church" are used in their original mean-
ing, namely world-wide or universal church, one that is in-
clusive of all true Christians.
Roman Catholics, however, claim that only the subjects
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 89
of the pope have the right to call themselves "Catholic/' They
alone are regarded as "true" Christians. All Protestants who
repeat the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed thereby assert
that they also belong to the world-wide church, and thus defi-
nitely reject the claim of the Roman Catholics to a monopoly
of the adjective "catholic."
The Authority of the Pope
Roman Catholics teach that Jesus founded their church,
and appointed St. Peter the supreme lawgiver and ruler over
all "true" Christians. This claim is based on a statement found
only in the gospel of Matthew (Matt. 16: 17-19). There Jesus is
said to have made a pun on Peter's name, which in Greek
means rock (petros). Peter has just declared emphatically his
belief that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ), the Son of the living
God. Jesus is reported as responding with deep satisfaction,
saying that Peter has had a direct revelation from God. Then
Jesus is said to have added these words: "Thou art Peter
(petros) and upon this rock I will build my church. ... I will
give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatso-
ever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound In heaven; and
whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in
There has been disagreement as to the meaning of this
conversation, and indeed certain outstanding scholars regard
Jesus' reply, given by Matthew alone, as not historical: yet the
Roman Catholics have built their entire church structure
upon this foundation. In other words, they assert that Jesus
gave Peter the keys to heaven and hell and, therefore, the
power to decide what is right and what Is wrong, and the
power to forgive or not to forgive sins. It Is this belief that led
medieval artists to picture St. Peter as holding two keys in his
To Roman Catholics, therefore, St. Peter was the first
pope, and all subsequent popes are believed to have succeeded
to his powers. This means that the pope claims to be the su-
90 The Ch urch A cross the Street
preme earthly ruler, lawgiver and judge of ail true Christians,
and Christ's vicar on earth so that to disobey the pope's author-
ity is to disobey God.
Although the pope is thus regarded as an absolute spirit-
ual monarch, he is himself very definitely bound. He must not
issue orders that contradict the commands of Christ or the
teachings of the Bible or the dogmas already adopted by duly
called councils of the entire Church.
But this still leaves much room for uncertainty. What
exactly are the commands of Christ or the teachings of the
Bible? How are they to be interpreted? Formerly when such
questions seemed Important enough they were laid before
"Ecumenical Councils" of bishops of the Church.The problem
of what books should be included in the Bible was settled in
this way. However, since the Vatican Council of 1870 decreed
that decisions of the pope bearing on "matters of faith and
morals" are infallible, there has been little need for such con-
claves. But this decree met with such opposition at the time
that some of the dissenters seceded and formed what has since
been known as the A *Old Catholic Church." Though never
large, this church has branches in Poland, France and else-
where in Europe. In the United States it claims about 90,000
members. Its beliefs are essentially those of Roman Catholi-
cism except that It refuses to recognize the pope and is in com-
munion with the Eastern Orthodox Church. The American
Old Catholic Church is governed by an archbishop whose seat
Is in Woodstock, N. Y.
In 1917, Pope Benedict XIV issued a detailed and very
carefully prepared law book, called The Code of Canon Law.
Although these laws are not enforceable in civil courts in the
United States, they are binding In the courts of the Roman
In order to exercise his authority in all countries, the
pope has delegated powers and duties to others. Named in
order of precedence, these include cardinals, patriarchs, arch-
bishops, bishops, priests, deacons, sub-deacons, and other
lower orders of servants of the church.
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 91
Mixed Marriages and the Education of Children
The points at which the average non-Catholic is apt to
come in conflict with this Code of Canon Law are in its legisla-
tion regarding mixed marriages and regarding the education
of children. First of all, the Roman Catholic Church forbids
Christians who have been baptized in the name of the Trinity
to become divorced. It considers the remarriage of such di-
vorced persons to be sinful. The Roman Catholic Church also
forbids all artificial methods of birth control. As a result, many
Roman Catholic families are large.
If a Roman Catholic wishes to marry a Protestant, for
example, the church refuses to recognize the ceremony per-
formed by a Protestant minister as a true marriage. The couple
so married is regarded as living in sin. The Roman church
requires that the parties go through a second ceremony before
a Roman Catholic priest.
The priest in turn is forbidden to perform the marriage
ceremony unless the Protestant party signs two promises. First,
he or she must agree not to interfere with the Roman Catholic
party's going regularly to church and confession. All children
born to the couple must be brought up from their earliest days
as Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholic spouse must make
a third promise, namely, that he will pray perseveringly for
the conversion of the Protestant party to the Roman Catholic
No Church has attached more importance to the instruc-
tion of children in its own faith than has the Roman Catholic
Church. Even in a country where the state provides free educa-
tion for all children, the Roman Catholic Church has estab-
lished its own parochial schools in a vast number of towns in
the country, and new ones continue to be built. The cost of
maintaining these schools places a heavy financial burden on
Catholic families and parishes, even though monks and nuns
do the teaching and are not paid. Hundreds of thousands of
children receive their entire education in these church-con-
trolled schools where religious instruction is of supreme im-
92 The Church Across the Street
portance. In marked contrast to the public schools, neither the
parents nor the public have any voice in their control. Even
the ownership of the school property may be vested in the
hands of the local bishop or archbishop, who then operates
legally as a one-man corporation. The ownership of these
schools is never in the hands of the Roman Catholic people of
America, although they pay for them and their children are
pupils. Some of the Roman Catholic institutions of higher
learning, such as Notre Dame and the Catholic University of
America, are well known. Many of them are controlled by
religious orders; for instance, the Jesuits control Holy Cross
in Massachusetts and Loyola University in Chicago, as well as
the University of Detroit. Manhattan College in New York
City is run by the Christian Brothers.There are also numerous
colleges for women, such as the College of St. Elizabeth in
New Jersey, conducted by the Sisters of Charity.
Roman Catholic Hospitals
Few cities are without hospitals founded and supported
by the Church; they are found in smaller communities as well.
More than a thousand such hospitals exist in the United States,
some of them with many beds and treating hundreds of pa-
tients each year. Although patients are usually admitted with-
out regard to their religion, the majority of the doctors on the
staff are likely to be Catholic, and many of the nurses are nuns.
Often direct control is in the hands of some nursing order of
Although the popes once governed a large part of central
and northern Italy, now their temporal power is confined to
one-sixth of a square mile called Vatican City. This beautiful
enclosure situated on a hillside above the Tiber River, has
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 93
about a thousand inhabitants over whom the pope actually
rules; but if any serious disorders should arise he may call in
the Italian police.
In this Vatican kingdom is the papal palace, called the
Vatican. It is a cluster of large and impressive buildings with
landscaped courts between them. In one section of the palace
live the pope and a few of his highest officials. Here is the
famous throne room where especially privileged visitors are
received. Here are many well-staffed offices where ecclesiastical
diplomats and other functionaries maintain close contacts
with all parts of the world. Here also are museums with price-
less treasures of sculpture, painting and tapestries, also a large
library containing priceless old manuscripts. Within Vatican
City are a half-dozen beautiful chapels, the most famous of
which is the Sistine Chapel. Besides buildings there are the
famous Vatican Gardens, made beautiful with flowers, shrubs
and trees of many varieties.
Inside Vatican City is also the vast Cathedral of St. Peter,
with its magnificent dome, the largest and most renowned
church building in the world.
Roman Catholics and the Bible
The Church of Rome regards the Bible as infallible. It
also denies to the individual the right to a private interpreta-
tion of any passage in the Bible on which the pope or the
Church has declared the meaning. Consequently, most Roman
Catholics are not encouraged to study the Bible directly them-
selves. Instead, they are instructed in the teachings of the
Church. Since World War I, however, the pope has permitted
the circulation of certain approved translations of the Bible
from the Latin into several modern languages, including
Italian, French and English. The standard English translation
is called the Douay Bible, so named from the town in France
where in 1610 the first Roman Catholic English translation
94 The Church Across the Street
The Roman Catholic Sacraments
To Roman Catholics, there are seven sacraments. Five of
these, baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist (Holy Commun-
ion), penance and extreme unction are for everybody. These
sacraments are intended to dignify and to make sacred
the important crises of life from the cradle to the grave. The
other two sacraments are holy matrimony and holy orders.
Matrimony is intended to give divine sanction to marriage
and to the propagation of the human race. Holy orders (ordi-
nation) hallows and safeguards the supplying of ministers of
Roman Catholics teach that all these sacraments were in-
stituted or arranged for by Christ himself. In performing
them, certain words must be said exactly as they are given in
the service book and certain visible acts must accompany the
words. Otherwise the sacrament will be of no avail.
Each sacrament is intended to bring a special benefit to
the person receiving it. In the language of the Church, the
sacraments "confer grace/' The word "grace" is defined as "a
supernatural help from God which enlightens our mind and
strengthens our will to do good and to avoid evil/' 6
The Sacrament of Baptism
For example, the sacrament of baptism is said to wash off
the guilt of one's original sinful nature, which it is believed
even innocent babies have inherited because of Adam's sin in
the Garden of Eden. This does not mean, however, that bap-
tism makes one perfect By no means; the tendency to sin still
remains. Consequently, new sinful acts sprout again like
weeds in a flower bed and will need forgiveness.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that, since the time
of Christ, no unbaptized person will be admitted to heaven.
It is believed that babies, who through no fault of their own
6 A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, rev. ed. of the Baltimore Catechism
no. 2. 1941.
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 95
die unbaptized, cannot go to heaven, but live forever in a
comfortable and beautiful region (called the limbo of infants),
a place especially reserved for them.
The Sacrament of Confirmation
Confirmation is defined as a sacrament that imparts to
one the sevenfold spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows.
This strengthens a person and prepares him to face the diffi-
culties of the Christian life. In modern times in America,
many children are confirmed between the ages of nine and
twelve. Usually only a bishop is permitted to administer this
sacrament. After making the sign of the Cross on the child's
forehead with fragrant sacred oil, the bishop gives the child
a gentle slap on the cheek to suggest that he must be prepared
to endure all affronts for the sake of the faith.
The Sacrament of the Eucharist
Protestant churches celebrate the sacrament of the Lord's
Supper, often called the Communion, in remembrance of the
farewell meal of Christ and the twelve disciples just before his
trial and crucifixion. In the Roman Catholic Church this
sacrament is called the Eucharist, a Greek word used in the
Old Testament to mean "thank offering."
The service at which the Eucharist is celebrated is called
the "Mass." This word comes from the Latin missa, meaning
"the dismissal." It is so called because in the early Church un-
believers or other unbaptized persons were dismissed at the
close of the first portion of the service, the Eucharist being
considered too sacred a mystery for them to witness. For a
baptized person who has reached the age of responsibility, not
to attend Mass at least once a week is a "mortal" sin.
In this sacrament the "elements," which are bread and
wine, when consecrated by the priest are believed to have
been converted into the actual body and blood of Christ. The
96 The Church A cross the Street
Roman Catholic Church teaches that these elements have be-
come more than mere symbols; that they have been actually
changed into the substance of the body and the substance of
the blood of Christ. This doctrine is called by the long name,
transubstantiation. In this sacrament, two miracles are alleged
to take place at the same instant. The first is the conversion
of the bread and wine into the substance of the real body and
blood of Christ. The second is the fact that this changed sub-
stance still looks, tastes and smells like bread and wine.
After the consecration of the bread and of the wine and
before he takes Communion himself, the priest performs a
ceremony known as the Elevation. With an appropriate
prayer, he lifts one consecrated wafer high above his head as
a sign that he is offering to God the body of Christ. A moment
later, he elevates the chalice containing the wine. In celebrat-
ing Mass the priest believes he is repeating in a "bloodless"
fashion the sacrifice made by Christ when he was crucified.
This repetition of the infinite sacrifice of God's Son is said to
benefit all who partake afterwards of the Communion. In
Roman Catholic churches today, in the United States and
almost everywhere, lay members are not allowed to drink the
wine; only a priest may do that.
Every Roman Catholic is required, unless illness pre-
vents, to confess his sins to a priest and to receive Communion
(that is to have the priest place a consecrated wafer on his
tongue) at the altar rail at least once a year. This is one reason
why Roman Catholic churches are so crowded at the Easter
At the Sunday afternoon services in Roman Catholic
churches, no Masses are celebrated. Instead in a very impres-
sive ceremony, called the Benediction of the Blessed Sacra-
ment, a consecrated wafer is exhibited in a sparkling gilded
frame, called a Monstrance. When it is looked upon, all
Roman Catholics present kneel and make the sign of the cross.
Famous composers have written music to accompany the
Mass and the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Protestant
Church music has been greatly enriched by selections from
the works of Roman Catholic musicians.
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 97
The Sacrament of Penance
The sacrament of penance is believed to be the means
ordained by Christ by which the guilt of sins committed after
baptism may be removed. Penance involves confessing one's
serious (or "mortal") sins to a priest, naming the sins to him
and expressing repentance and the purpose not to repeat them.
Coveting a neighbor's wife or even his material possessions is
one of the "mortar' sins. It is not enough to confess one's
mortal sins to another person who is not a priest, or even to the
person who has been wronged; nor is it sufficient to confess
one's mortal sins in private prayer to God. The priest claims
to represent Christ as judge, on the theory that God has given
the priest the power to forgive sins or to leave them .unfor-
given. He may also prescribe certain tasks to be performed as
a penalty to satisfy God's justice. The priest, however, is in
duty bound to keep secret all knowledge gained through con-
fessions made to him. It is taught that if one commits even one
mortal sin and dies before making confession to a priest when
the means for confession are accessible, that person is liable to
the penalty of eternal damnation. Soldiers and others dying
suddenly are excused from such strict requirements.
The Sacrament of Extreme Unction
This sacrament is performed on those about to die. It
offers forgiveness of the last sins which may have been com-
mitted. In this sacrament, the priest usually touches with con-
secrated oil the eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet of the dying
person and prays for forgiveness for all sins of which these
different parts of the body may have been guilty. If the person
should recover, the sacrament may be repeated when the need
The Saints and the Festivals
The Roman Catholic Church takes pride in a very con-
siderable number of good men and women who have been
98 The Church Across the Street
"heroically" faithful to Christ and the Church. After the death
of such persons, if they are thought to be desirable candidates
for sainthood, prolonged and costly investigations will be
made of their lives and the results of the study will be pre-
sented to the pope. If he judges that, although not 100 per cent
sinless, the persons when living were really saints, and if he
finds proof that two miracles have been performed by them
since their death, the pope will add their names to the ap-
proved list. An elaborate ceremony of "canonization" will
then take place in Rome.
From that time on, those who come to a church to pray
may beg the newly canonized saint to intercede with the
heavenly Father to grant special grace or favor. Answers to
such prayers are often publicly acknowledged by placing stone
placques in the churches, bearing such inscriptions as:
"Thanks be to St. Agnes for help in passing an examination,"
or for "recovery from a serious illness." In some churches, wor-
shipers express their gratitude for cures for which they have
prayed by getting the sexton to hang discarded crutches on
the inside wall of the church, or a wax model of a leg or arm.
Some shrines have become very famous for the cures said
to have taken place there. Such a one is that of St. Anne de
Beaupre in Quebec, Canada. To this shrine many pilgrims
flock from all over North America, hoping for the miracle
that will cure them.
How Many Roman Catholics Are There?
There are said to be about 41 million Roman Catholics
in the United States. It should be noted, however, that in
making their statistics the Roman Catholics include all who
have been baptized in infancy and are not known to have
died, even though many of these are children or may have
neglected Communion or lost touch with their priest through
moving to some other town. Once one is a member of the
Catholic Church, one becomes a permanent member in the
eyes of the Church. Thus this figure of 41 million is not en-
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 99
tirely comparable with the membership figures of Protestant
churches, although these too are not entirely accurate. In ad-
dition to the Roman Catholics, there is also the membership
of the dissident Old Catholic Church, numbering somewhat
less than a hundred thousand, and itself split into several smal-
The Power of the Church
In spite of all that may seem outmoded in Roman Cathol-
icism, in spite of its exaltation of the authority of the Church
above what may seem to others as the authority of truth, there
is a power in this ancient institution which deserves profound
One who as a child attended Mass regularly with his
parents and who later left the Church, describes in these words
the elements of value which it had for him. "I got an impres-
sion of mighty wonder and the feeling that this worship pos-
sessed an awful and final authority. We were there not because
we had nothing else to do, nor because we were going to be
entertained; we were there because tremendous things sur-
rounded us and mighty things awaited us and prodigious
things were above us/' The Church dramatized "man's lof-
tiest concern, which is the winning of help from the Unseen,
and his deepest hunger, which is for sublimity and ecstasy and
The Eastern Orthodox Churches
Eastern Orthodox churches can usually be recognized
by their distinctive architecture, the most striking features of
which are their onion-shaped domes. These churches stem
7 William L. Sullivan, Under Orders (Richard R. Smith, 1945) , p. 31.
100 The Church Across the Street
from that group of churches which in the eleventh century
ceased to be in communion with Rome. They are sometimes
called Greek Orthodox churches because the earliest liturgies
were in the Greek language, whereas the Roman Catholics
from the third century onward used Latin. From the ninth
century onward the Slavic nations, such as Bulgaria, Serbia
and Russia, have used a translation from the Greek into an
ancient tongue called Old Church Slavonic. Some of the Or-
thodox churches still use Syriac in their liturgy, an ancient
language very similar to the Aramaic which Jesus spoke.
These churches are divided into sixteen different organ-
izations, each bearing a national name. These branches are
quite independent of each other, yet they are in communion
with one another, each recognizing all the others as genuine
Orthodox churches. They all agree in doctrine and use in
their services ancient liturgies. They regard themselves as the
successors of the apostolic churches in Asia Minor and lay
great stress on orthodoxy. They have now some of the leading
Christian churches in Jerusalem.
The Russian Orthodox Church
Before World War I, these Eastern Orthodox churches
had a membership estimated at 121 million. Eight times as
many of these were in Russia as in all other countries put
together. As early as 997, Czar Vladimir, whose chief city was
Kiev, had made Christianity the state religion. As it grew in
power and wealth the Russian Church became very subser-
vient to the state, and deserved some of the abuse heaped upon
it by Lenin and his followers. With the overthrow of the czarist
empire by the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, the Church
as such was separated from the state and persecuted, and de-
prived of its great wealth. No one outside Russia can estimate
the present strength of the Church there, nor can one prophesy
what the future may bring.
The oldest icon of the Virgin in Russia is found in the Cathedral
of St. Sophia, in the ancient city of Novgorod. (The Bettmann
1 02 The Church A cross the Street
The Missionary Work of the Russian Church
With the expansion of the Russian empire into eastern
Europe, Siberia and the Caucasus, the Orthodox Church also
spread. It established churches in Alaska as well. When Poles,
Russians, Syrians, Albanians, Greeks, Bulgarians and Ruma-
nians began emigrating to America, the Orthodox churches
followed them. Thus it happens that there are about twenty
branches of the Eastern Church, most of them having a dif-
ferent national origin and each largely independent of the
rest. The largest in North America is the Greek archdiocese;
with its South American membership included, it has a mem-
bership of more than a million. The next largest is the Russian
Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America with a member-
ship of about 760,000. The combined membership of all the
Eastern Orthodox churches in North America is nearly 3 mil-
lion, which makes this ancient Church far from the smallest
of religious bodies in the New World. Like the Roman
Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox Catholics tend to be con-
centrated in cities. There are many of them in San Francisco,
Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and New York.
Their Forms of Worship
To attend a service in one of the Eastern churches is a
most interesting experience. Worshipers may purchase candles
as they enter. Instead of images there are on the walls many
paintings, called ikons, before which worshippers place their
lighted candles and kneel in prayer. Some even kiss the ikons.
The air is filled with the odor of burning incense.
In the United States the language of the liturgy is usu-
ally Old Church Slavonic or Greek. Worshipers may stand
throughout the service, which may last two or three hours.
The vestments of the priests are very colorful but different
from those worn in the Roman Catholic services.
In no church is the choral music more beautiful than
that heard in the Eastern Orthodox churches, their music
IGNATIUS LOYOLA 103
having been developed to a fine art through many centuries.
No musical instruments are used, but remarkable effects are
obtained by the skillful blending of male and female voices.
Music composed by Russians has greatly enriched church
music in many denominations.
There are three orders of the ministry. Beginning with
the lowest they are deacons, priests and bishops. Certain of the
bishops of the large sees are called "metropolitans" and a very
few are called "patriarchs." The parish priests are called
"popes," which is equivalent to "father." Some of the priests
become monks. The vows of all monks are alike and bind
them to obedience, chastity, prayer and poverty. The parish
priests are allowed to marry before ordination, but if the wife
dies, there can be no second marriage. The monks must be
celibate. Only monks may be elected bishops.
In belief, the Eastern Orthodox churches resemble the
Roman Catholic Church. They accept the seven sacraments,
except extreme unction. Baptism is by immersion. They do
not usually practice confession to the priests. In most countries
the date for Easter is different from that in the Western world.
They permit divorce by lay members.
The division of the Western and Eastern churches was
not due primarily to differences in doctrine. It came about
rather because of the political situation in Europe during the
period of Christian expansion. Both churches have a complex
system of church government, in the West headed in Rome
by the pope, and in the East by his rival the patriarch of
Constantinople. Their elaborate liturgies are utterly unlike
anything known in the early days of the churches founded by
the apostles. Both seem far removed from the free and spirit-
ual religion of Jesus.
104 The Church Across the Street
The Eastern Catholic Churches
The Crusaders, and later the Roman Catholics in Poland
and France, made many efforts to induce the Eastern churches
to recognize the pope as their only lawful head. They achieved
their greatest success in Poland, where several million such
converts to Rome were made. These converts submitted to the
pope, but were allowed to retain almost unchanged their
litanies in Old Church Slavonic. Called "Uniats" by the Rus-
sians, they are coming to prefer to be called Eastern Catholics.
These Uniats are increasing in the United States. They pray
for the pope and he chooses their bishops.
6. Thomas Cranmer
Will you not understand what the priest prayeth for you? Had
you rather be like pies and parrots, that be taught to speak and yet
understand not one word what they say, than be true Christian
men, that pray unto God in heart and faith? ... Be you such
enemies to your country that you will not suffer us to laud God,
to thank Him, and to use His sacraments in our own tongues?
This Hand Hath Offended 1
If only Henry VIII had married someone else instead of
his brother's widow, if only she had borne him a male child;
if only she had not been Catharine of Aragon, the daughter of
Ferdinand and Isabella, the greatest sovereigns of Europe; if
only Henry VIII had not become so passionately enamored of
Anne Boleyn; if only the pope had been willing to compromise
and say that Henry's first marriage had been unlawful, and,
therefore, no marriage at all; if only then how long would
England have remained a Roman Catholic country? Who can
say? Life is full of just such "ifs," and no one can predict which
if is going to add just the extra weight needed to change the
balance of destiny.
Henry VIII Finds His Man
Henry VIII cared supremely for but one thing and that
was to marry the beautiful Anne Boleyn. But his people were
106 The Church Across the Street
the spiritual subjects of the Roman pontiff, and belonged to
the Holy Catholic Church; and the Church meant the words
used in the marriage ceremony: "What God hath joined let
no man put asunder." So Henry VIII had to choose. It was
either the pope or Anne Boleyn; Henry chose the woman he
loved, and in so doing he himself became the head of the
Church in his kingdom.
To Henry VIII it seemed a long time between the day
in 1527 when he openly announced his desire to find another
queen who might bear him a royal son and heir to the throne,
and the day seven years later when he actually achieved his
desire. He could flout the pope, but his conscience would not
allow him to flout the Christian Church in his own land. So
until he could find a churchman who would be willing and
able to assist him toward his goal, Henry was helpless. He
needed a man learned in the canon law, a priest well trained
in holy orders, a suave, unassuming gentleman, who would be
subservient to the royal will.
It was the king's good fortune to find just such a man, but
Thomas Cranmer was more than all this. He was already
secretly inclined toward some of the Protestant beliefs. In his
own heart he had rejected the miracle of the change of the
bread and wine at Communion to the substance of the body
and blood of Christ. Secretly he yearned to change the Roman
Catholic rituals at a number of points. He believed in allowing
priests to marry, for he himself was both a Catholic priest and
a married man, but he dared not live openly with his wife.
Thomas Cranmer was no Luther or Calvin or Knox. Cranmer
was too timid and too politic to risk his life by boldly initiating
a new movement; yet he was willing to go as far as his Royal
Highness cared to go.
Henry's discovery of Cranmer seems almost a matter of
chance. A royal representative came one day to the same home
in which this young professor from Oxford was visiting. The
conversation turned about "the king's matter/' "Why not sub-
mit the question to the university faculties?" suggested Thom-
as Cranmer. "If they rule favorably the king will have good
cause, no matter what the pope may decide/' Simple though
THOMAS CRANMER 107
the idea sounds, it was passed on to the king who promptly
sent word to Cranmer to write out a case for him which might
be presented to the faculties of Oxford and Cambridge.
The King Becomes Supreme Head of the Church
From then on Cranmer's advancement was rapid. He was
sent as a special emissary to Rome, but to no avail. On his
return the king made him chaplain to the household of Anne
Boleyn, and finally his Royal Highness appointed him as Arch-
bishop of Canterbury, the highest ecclesiastical office in the
Through Cranmer's adroit exposition of canon law and
of the so-called facts in the case, a favorable verdict was handed
down by the faculties and concurred in by Parliament, who
even passed a law forbidding appeal to any authority outside
England. Archbishop Cranmer pronounced the marriage with
Catharine of Aragon null and void, and proclaimed Henry
VIII and Anne Boleyn to be man and wife. At Henry's com-
mand, Parliament announced its recognition of the king as
"the Supreme Head of the Church of England." From that
day to this (with the exception of about six short years), the
national Church of England has been a Protestant Church.
Other Reasons for the Reformation
But how, one asks, could such a tremendous change, af-
fecting the religious life of a whole nation, be brought about
through the mere annulment of a royal marriage? Why has not
the Reformation been rescinded during all these four hundred
years since 1534?
The answer is in part that the Roman Catholic Church,
in acquiring wealth and power, had lost its soul. In its zeal for
power it had removed itself from the common people. Further-
more, many of the clergy were grossly immoral and most of
them were ignorant.
108 The Church Across the Street
Once the break with Rome was made, Henry VIII began
wantonly to dismantle and to destroy the monasteries where,
it is said, over a fourth of the wealth of the nation had been
concentrated. These lands, buildings and priceless works of
art Henry seized and distributed widely among the smaller
and greater manorial lords of the land; and, of course, he ap-
propriated a bounteous portion for the Crown. Through this
campaign against the monasteries Henry VIII made the
Reformation a profitable venture. Thousands of Englishmen
were given a financial stake in its maintenance.
It is also true that Englishmen have long resisted in-
fringement of their liberties by any foreign authority. The
Roman pope seemed far away. The spirit of nationalism had
been spreading and with it came a weakening of the power of
the pope. Many Englishmen had long resented papal attempts
to collect revenues in England and the control exercised by
Rome in the matter of marriage.
There were other and deeper causes, however, for the
success of the reformation, even though it was occasioned by
the love affairs of a sensuous king. To understand these, one
must search the annals of the fourteenth and fifteenth cen-
turies in England to find the real, though often forgotten men
who had been leavening the thought of English churchmen
with Protestant heresies, and so had been secretly undermining
the power of the Holy Catholic faith.
The Significance of John Wycliffe
One of these men died almost one hundred and fifty years
before Henry proclaimed himself the head of the Church.
John Wycliffe is often called "the morning star of the Ref-
ormation in England." And why? Because it was John Wy-
cliffe who first persuaded an English king to refuse to pay a
certain part of the tribute demanded by the Holy See, saying
that it was wrong for the pope to be rich if he were the rep-
resentative of Christ on earth. It was John Wycliffe who pro-
tested against the rich estates held by the monasteries and
THOMAS CRANMER 109
against the profligate living to which even friars sworn to
poverty had succumbed. It was John Wycliffe who organized
a band of "poor preachers" and who sent them from village
to village throughout central England, to teach the people
the spiritual lessons of the gospel in words they could under-
stand. It was these "poor preachers" who held services, using
the English language in their prayers and readings, while all
the Roman Catholic clergy were chanting Latin. It was John
Wycliffe who first, with the help of his associates, translated
the entire Bible into the English language. It was John Wy-
cliffe who had proclaimed every man his own priest and so
able to approach God directly, and who asserted that even the
pope might make a mistake, and if he did wrong he should
not be obeyed.
Although this same John Wycliffe escaped being burned
at the stake, he and a half-dozen of his followers were dropped
from their professorships at Oxford. Some recanted; others
fled the country. Had it not been for a stroke of paralysis, John
Wycliffe would have had to obey the Pope's summons to Rome
to be tried. Even thirty years after Wycliffe's death, fear of the
further spread of his doctrines was so intense that by command
of the Pope the Bishop of Lincoln required that Wycliffe's
body should be exhumed and burned at the stake and the
ashes thrown into the river.
William Tyndale and His English Bible
Then came the fortuitous invention of movable type
which, by the end of the fifteenth century, made possible the
distribution of the printed page throughout England. This
meant that the Bible, instead of being laboriously copied by
hand, could now be duplicated by the hundred. A Bible, pre-
viously sold for two hundred pounds, could now be obtained
for ten pounds. Families of moderate means could have copies
in their own homes.
There was also a man, named William Tyndale, a con-
temporary of Thomas Cranmer, who became fired with a zeal
1 10 The Church Across the Street
to make a better translation of the New Testament, by work-
ing It out from the original Greek text. "If God spare my life/'
he said to a churchman of rank, "ere many years I will cause
the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture
than thou dost"
Some years before this, however, Arundel, the Arch-
bishop of Canterbury, caused a law to be enacted forbidding
any one under threat of excommunication to make a transla-
tion of the Scripture without a license, Tyndale was unable to
secure this license. He therefore sought safety In another
country. He went to Germany, consulted Martin Luther, and
worked in secrecy for many years. Finally on a German press
in Worms, his English New Testament was printed.
In this great work William Tyndale showed his power
of beautiful and forceful expression. The rhythms that char-
acterize the language in our King James Version of the Bible,
rhythms so pleasing to the ear and so harmonious with the
thought, are In large measure the rhythmic words created by
Tyndale's skill and devotion.
Tyndale was equally adept in writing thought-provoking
comments on the Biblical texts and adding them to the
chapters. Many of these had anti-Catholic Implications, and
when copies of his New Testament began to trickle into Eng-
land, one fell Into the hands of Henry VIII. The comments
so offended his Majesty that he had all copies banned from
In other ways William Tyndale proved himself to be
neither suave nor politic. He expressed himself vigorously
against the king's plan to marry Anne Boleyn. As a result, Tyn-
dale was not safe even In Germany. He worked secretly, mov-
ing apparently from time to time to avoid spies Henry sent out
to hunt him down and kidnap him wherever he might be. But
with the help of his friend Coverdale, Tyndale finally suc-
ceeded after nearly ten years of quiet work in translating and
printing the entire Bible.
Then he fled to Antwerp, hoping to be able to live quiet-
ly in a Protestant country. But on the sixth of October 1536,
spies sent by the Roman Catholic emperor in France, lured
him out of his hostelry by trickery, strangled him and burned
An English Bible in Every Church
The Bible that Tyndaie and Coverdale had translated
was not so easily destroyed. In fact, it was but one year after
Tyndale's murder that Cranmer induced Parliament to order
a large volume of this translation to be placed in every church
in the land, and the clergy were enjoined "expressly to pro-
voke, stir, and exhort every person to read the same." But
another name than Tyndale's had been substituted on the
title page, and all his comments had been omitted. Only by so
doing could Henry have been persuaded to accept the innova-
tion as appropriate. When this act had been finally decreed,
Cranmer wrote the prime minister saying, "You have showed
me more pleasure herein, than If you had given me a thousand
All through the lifetime of Henry VIII, Thomas
Cranmer fretted inwardly for opportunities to initiate more
changes in the Roman Catholic forms of worship, but out-
wardly he held himself in willing conformity to his master's
will. Others in favor in the king's court, officers, ministers,
queens, one by one fell under his wrath and one by one they
were put away; but Thomas Cranmer stood by the king unto
death and the king trusted Cranmer as he did no other man.
From the day of the king's death to Cranmer's own tragic end,
he let his beard grow uncut as a sign of his loyalty.
Cranmer Is at Last Free
At last, in 1547 when the old king died, Thomas Cranmer
was free. In spite of all six marriages, Henry VIII had but one
son who survived him. Edward VI he was called, a sickly ten-
year-old lad, completely under the control of Cranmer and the
Three English churchmen joined the ranks of Protestant martyrs:
Bishops Nicholas Ridley (left) and Hugh Latimer (right) were
burned at the stake in 15 5 5, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (center)
in 1556. From the painting by Lejeune. (Keystone View Co.)
THOMAS CRANMER 113
ministers of the court. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Can-
terbury, was now the real head of the Church of England, and
he was free to lead the people forward toward as thorough-
going a reformation as he desired.
He set about to bring to completion three important
changes, on which he had been working quietly for years. The
first was to prepare and promulgate a series of services in
English which could replace the Latin rituals that were still
being used throughout England. The second change was to
state in creedal form the beliefs of the new Church, and the
third was to state the laws by which the new Church and the
morals of the people should be governed.
The Book of Common Prayer
It was in what Cranmer did to bring about the first of
these changes that he made his most lasting and important
contribution to the Protestant Church in England. If he had
merely translated the Latin prayers and readings into English,
without making any changes at all in the ideas, many would
have been shocked to hear prayers said in the common
language of daily speech. But to make radical changes in the
ideas besides to eliminate all prayers for the dead in purga-
tory, to cut out all words of address to the Holy Mother of
God, to change the Communion ritual so that the people
partook of the bread and wine merely in remembrance that
Christ died for them to make such changes meant changing
And with the changes in words went more spectacular
changes. Altars were removed from the churches and simple
Communion tables substituted. The minister stood at the
head of the table facing the congregation instead of turning
his back and kneeling before the altar. All partook of both
the bread and wine, instead of the priest's drinking the wine
Although the new prayer book was not appreciated by
the people of Cranmer's generation, his part in the prepara-
I M The Church Across the Street
tion of this Book of Common Prayer represents the most last-
ing and important contribution which he made to the Ref-
ormation. Like William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer had a
remarkable gift of expression through the written word.
Although the edition now used is not just as Cranmer
composed it, many of the prayers, litanies and collects are as
he penned thein. They are English prose at its best. They
"provided a substitute for the noble Latin rhythms on which
the soul of Europe had been formed for more than a thousand
years, and he gave to the Church of England a treasure by the
aesthetic effect of which more than by anything else her spirit
has remained alive and she Ik- : attached herself to the hearts
of men." 1
Catholic Mary Becomes Queen
Cranmer's steps toward reform, however, had scarcely
more than begun when the boy king died. At the age of sixteen,
in 1553, he was succeeded on the throne by Mary, the eldest
child of Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon. Mary was a
devout, even a fanatical Roman Catholic. So the tables were
turned: those who had plotted to keep her from the throne, in
order to give her Protestant sister Elizabeth the crown instead,
were executed as traitors. Those who had been supporting the
Reformation either fled or recanted or were imprisoned and
sent to the stake. In one month's time fifty Protestant martyrs
were burned at the stake. Even the politic and powerful Arch-
bishop of Canterbury found himself in mortal peril.
With two of his most faithful bishops, Ridley and Lat-
imer, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Later all
three were removed to the Bocardo prison in Oxford, hard by
the city wall. For a while the three shared a common room;
later Ridley and Latimer were removed. Sometime later Cran-
mer stood at his window, watching a milling and shouting
crowd outside the wall, and saw his two friends tied to two
stakes and burned to death.
1 Hilaire Belloc, Cranmer (London: Cassell, 1931) , pp. 245-246.
For the true confession of his -faith in St. Mary's Church, Oxford,
Cranmer was pulled from the platform by friars and papists and
led immediately to the stake. (The Bettmann Archive)
116 The Church Across the Street
Archbishop Cranmer Is Unfrocked
Still Cranmer himself was spared. Without the command
of the Pope, Queen Mary could not burn for heresy a man
who once had held the highest office in the Church of Eng-
land, He must be put through the ceremony of debasing.
When the Pope's condemnation finally came, messengers ar-
rived at Cranmer's prison. They clothed him in all the official
vestments, suitable to the highest of the seven orders of rank
in the church, including those of the Archbishop of Canter-
bury. Thus adorned, and with staff in hand and the sacred
mitre on his head, Cranmer was conducted to the cathedral.
There in a mocking ceremony, they stripped from him one
after another all the vestments of office. In their stead, they
gave him a yeoman's plain and much-worn gown. To make his
degradation complete, a barber shaved his head.
Granmer's Struggle with Conscience
Still Thomas Cranmer waited in prison not knowing
what his fate might be. Men were sent to plead with him to
recant. It was not too late to gain a reprieve. Finally the old
man began to weaken. He had always believed it right to be
obedient to the throne. Many a time he had yielded to Henry
VIII when his conscience would have led him by a different
road. Perhaps now his fidelity to the queen should supersede
his loyalty to the faith. He wrote a letter to her Majesty ex-
pressing his loyalty to her. This was not acceptable. He wrote
again and yet again. Each assertion became stronger than the
one preceding until he had written six different recantations,
until he had denied all the important things for which he had
stood during the previous twenty years. He pronounced him-
self a loyal Roman Catholic on every count.
Still there was no response from the throne. Instead, the
hour was set for his final appearance in St. Mary's Church. It
was a rainy spring morning. A crowd of villagers waited out-
side the church as a procession headed by two black-gowned
THOMAS CRANMER 117
friars, with a white-bearded old man between them, entered
the house of worship. Voices were hushed as the beautiful, yet
plaintive, strains of "Nunc dimittis" issued from the great
organ. It was the music which for years untold has sanctified
the passing of a man from this life into the hoped-for life
The friars escorted the old man to a platform opposite
the pulpit. Soon a priest stepped to the pulpit and began to
preach. "He made a recital of all Cranmer 's enormous mis-
deeds/' For years Cranmer had set forth heresy after heresy.
These he had openly preached and many he had written down
in books. It was only during his last days in prison that the
grace of God had moved him to recant but "never had evils
so enormous been excused, never had a man continuing so
long in them been pardoned, and for the sake of example,
pardon could not now be granted: the Queen and the Council
had taken their decision and Cranmer was to die." 2
The Final Recantation
When the priest had finished his sermon, he asked the
congregation to pray for the condemned man. Thomas Cran-
mer knelt with the rest. He prayed aloud in a pitiful cry for
forgiveness. "Oh, Father of Heaven, Son of God, Redeemer
of the world . . . have mercy upon me. ... I have offended more
grievously than any can express. . . . Oh, Lord God, my sins are
great, yet have mercy upon me for Thy great mercy. Oh, God
the Son, Thou wast not made Man for few nor small offences.
. . . Although my sins be great, yet Thy mercy is greater/'
He rose. A solemn quiet filled the church. From a down-
cast and pitiable figure, Cranmer became transformed. Up-
rightness and resolve were manifest in the way he stood. His
voice was calm and clear.
And now, forasmuch at, I have come to the last end of my
life, whereupon hangeth all my life past and my life to come,
1 18 The Church Across the Street
either to live with my Saviour Christ forever in joy, or else to be
in pains forever with the wicked devils in hell; and I see before
mine eyes presently either heaven to receive me, or else hell ready
to swallow me up: ...
The great thing that so troubleth my conscience, more than
any other thing that I ever said or did in my life ... is my setting
abroad of writings contrary to the truth, which here now I re-
nounce and refuse as things written with my hand contrary to the
truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death,
and to save my life if it might be; and that is all such bills which
I have written or signed with my hand since my degradation;
wherein I have written many things untrue. And forasmuch as my
hand offendeth in writing contrary to my heart, it shall be first
burned. And as for the Pope, 1 refuse him as Christ's enemy and
anti-Christ, with all his false doctrine. And as for the sacraments....
The Noble End
With these words a great clamor arose. There were shouts
of "Stop the heretic's mouth!" "Take him away!" Thomas
Cranmer was dragged from the platform and hurried down
the aisle, out of the church, through the village lane toward
the north gate, and out beyond the wall to the spot where, but
a short while before, he had seen his friends Ridley and Lat-
imer, meet their death. The people from the church crowded
about the upright stake around which fagots had been piled.
They watched as he was bound to the stake with a steel band.
Those who were nearby wondered that there was no trace of
fear on his face. He even shook hands with a few of the people.
At the final moment he stood triumphant, at peace with his
Maker, of whose mercy he was now sure.
As the flames rose, the people saw him hold his right hand
out into the fire, and they heard him cry with a loud voice,
"This hand hath offended, let it first be burned!" And there
he held it till the flames destroyed his power to command.
Thus died Thomas Cranmer, the man, unfrocked and
THOMAS CRANMER 119
"What a beautiful church this is!" How often that re-
mark is heard! In New England the white church spire and
the pillared porch are almost as much a feature of the land-
scape as are the lovely green hills. Such churches are frequently
Congregational (now United Church of Christ), or Unitarian
(now Unitarian Universalist). Elsewhere, as for example in
Virginia, quaint brick churches are more often seen, reminis-
cent of the little village churches of old England, with their
ivy-covered walls and adjacent churchyard. Often these are
Episcopal, and they are in a sense as truly monuments of Arch-
bishop Cranmer as if they had been built with his own hand.
In them each Sunday are read those beautiful litanies and
prayers which he helped to prepare four centuries ago.
Although the Episcopal Church is today one of the
strongest denominations in the United States, with somewhat
more than a million members, it was not always so. During
the American Revolution, churches linked with the Church
of England almost ceased to exist. This was true even in Vir-
ginia, where the first Episcopal (then called Anglican) church
on this continent was founded in 1607 at Jamestown. This was
true despite the fact that two-thirds of the signers of the Dec-
laration of Independence were Anglican. George Washington
himself was an Anglican.
The Tory record of some of the Anglican Church mem-
bers, however, was not the only handicap from which the
Church of post-Revolutionary days suffered. Prior to the Rev-
olution, the Anglican Church in America had been under the
jurisdiction of the bishop of London. Its ministers were
obliged to cross the Atlantic for ordination. All church affairs
were handled in England, except when they were of purely
local concern. After the thirteen colonies broke away from the
mother country, the Anglican churches found themselves
without bishops and without the means of getting any, for any
new bishop, in order to be consecrated, had to take the oath
of allegiance to the king of England.
120 The Church Across the Street
The Independent Protestant Episcopal Church
Samuel Seabury was finally elected by the Anglicans of
Connecticut as their bishop, and was sent to England for con-
secration. After a year of waiting, he found the English bishops
still unwilling to consecrate him. Seabury, therefore, went to
the small and independent Episcopal Church of Scotland.
Their bishop willingly acceded to the request of the Connecti-
cut church, and consecrated Samuel Seabury to his holy office
on November 14, 1784, by the historic ceremony of "laying on
of hands." In this way the "apostolic succession/' or line of
consecrated bishops from the days of the apostles, remained
unbroken. When the Anglican churches in America became
independent of the mother church in England they took the
name Protestant Episcopal.
Both Like and Unlike the Roman Catholic Church
Anglicans and Episcopalians are closer to the Roman
Catholic Church than any of the other Protestant denomina-
tions. In England, the Anglican Church is an established
church, that is, it is the only church formally recognized by the
national government. Its support comes from endowments
and government funds, to which are added voluntary con-
tributions. These last are very important when it comes to
the upkeep of many of the ancient and magnificent cathedrals
and abbey churches. The king (or queen, when there is no
royal male heir to succeed to the throne), is titular head. The
actual administration, however, is largely in the hands of the
two chief ecclesiastical dignitaries, the archbishops of Canter-
bury and York. Parliament must give its consent before any
radical changes are made in ecclesiastical faith or practice. For
example, any alterations in the Book of Common Prayer must
receive the consent of Parliament. Thus, somewhat paradoxi-
cally, such changes might even be blocked by the votes of non-
Anglicans in Parliament.
But even though the Anglican Church is the only recog-
THOMAS CRANMER i 2 1
nized church in the United Kingdom, there is nevertheless
complete freedom of worship and its actual membership is
only about $\/ z million. However, it is also strong in the British
colonies and Commonwealth. There are, for example, about
2 million Anglicans in Canada, and more than a third of those
belonging to any church in Australia are Anglican. Yet the
Anglican Church in each dominion is entirely independent of
the parent church. Each elects its own bishops and may use a
slightly different prayer book. The total number of Anglicans
and Episcopalians the world over is said to be about 40 million.
The Church of England and many of the Episcopal
churches in our own country continue the observance of most
of the holy days and religious festivals inherited from the
Catholic Church. Indeed, the observance of these is one feature
that makes life in the Episcopal Church interesting and re-
ligion itself meaningful for many people. Almost every date
in the calendar has some special significance.
Although the monastic life occupies a much less impor-
tant place in the Anglican and Episcopal churches than in the
Roman Catholic, there are nevertheless a number of monastic
orders. As in the Roman Catholic Church, monks and nuns
vow chastity and poverty, and engage in teaching, preaching
and frequent prayer. Some also do other kinds of useful work.
Episcopal Church Government
A self-supporting district supervised by a bishop is called
a diocese. (There are also missionary districts.) He serves as
chairman and administrator of the diocesan convention. This
convention is composed of the ministers of all the parishes and
of elected lay members, one or more from each parish. The
diocesan bishops are elected by these diocesan conventions,
but these elections must be ratified by the House of Bishops
(that is, by all the bishops of the church), and by standing com-
mittees representing all the dioceses. There are three classes
of bishops: in addition to what might be called the regular
bishops, there are coadjutor bishops and suffragan bishops.
122 The Church Across the Street
Both the latter assist the former, but a suffragan may not suc-
ceed to his superior's post should it become vacant. A General
Convention representing all the dioceses meets every three
The affairs of the individual church are in the hands of a
vestry, the members of which are elected by the congregation.
The vestry in each church chooses its own minister (or "rec-
tor"), submitting its decision to the bishop, and, even though
the bishop objects, the vestry may still have the man of its
choice if it insists.
Episcopal Beliefs and Customs
Anglicans and Episcopalians differ among themselves.
The group known as "high church" gives great emphasis to
ritual and to the sacraments. The "low church/' on the other
hand, has simplified ritual and puts less emphasis on inherited
forms. Although these differences persist, there is less tendency
among Episcopalians today to label them and the terms "high
church*' and "low church" are not heard as commonly as
formerly. The "high church" service in many ways resembles
that of the Roman Catholics, and such "high churches" are
frequently called "Anglo-Catholic." With them the service of
Holy Communion is spoken of as the Mass. Their ministers
are called "priests," and sometimes "Father." They may hold
confession, just as the Roman Catholic priests do. In England
the Anglican Church is also bound to accept the Thirty-nine
Articles of Faith, but in America Episcopalians are free to
accept or reject them, although for all they have historic value.
The "low church" Episcopalians reject the idea of the
confessional and the Mass, they recognize only two sacraments
baptism and Communion. Purgatory they also deny, as do
Episcopalians generally, nor do they pray to the Virgin Mary
and the saints.
There are other important differences which separate
Roman Catholic practices from those of Anglicans or Episco-
palians. Since the days of Cranmer, marriage of the clergy has
THOMAS CR AN MER 123
been permitted. If the union of two persons who love each
other is to be blessed by the sacrament of marriage, as even
the Roman Catholics believe, why should it be forbidden to
priests? So Cranmer thought, and so it seems to most Protes-
tants. Anglicans and Episcopalians in general do not believe
in monastic orders, although a few exist.
Thus Anglicans and Episcopalians are more Protestant
than Catholic, and they may well become more so in the
future, for the urge to unite with other branches of Christen-
dom has not passed them by. Bishop Pike of California has
suggested that Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists,
among others, should seriously consider organic union. A
similar proposal that Presbyterians and Episcopalians merge
was seriously considered some years ago by both churches but
finally dropped; there is a fair prospect that more will come of
it this time.
Episcopal Forms of Worship
Episcopal church services are usually distinguished by
their artistic beauty. There is much ceremony and ritual,
especially in the high churches, with a processional and reces-
sional, both headed by a crucifer bearing a cross. Music is
given an important place. Much of it consists of choral re-
sponses to words spoken by the minister. These prayers and
responses are often old and expressive of deep religious feeling.
The magnificent works of such great composers as Gounod
and Palestrina are often sung. The prayers used are those
found in the Book of Common Prayer, much of which is still
as Archbishop Cranmer left it after working for years to put
the services into the spoken language.
The dignity of the service is increased in most Episcopal
churches by the beauty of the church interior. Many American
churches have been copied from the old English churches of
Norman or Gothic architecture. Almost all of them what-
ever the architectural style are expressive of the close re-
lationship of beauty and religion.
124 The Church Across the Street
Protestant Episcopal Cathedrals
The Episcopalians, like the Roman Catholics, have cathe-
drals. A cathedral is sometimes called the bishop's church, for
in it is the official seat of the bishop of that diocese. Two such
cathedrals, that of St. John the Divine in New York City, and
the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Washington, are
national monuments. Like the ancient cathedrals of Europe,
these have been years in building. In the crypt of the cathedral
in Washington the bodies of some of the nation's great have
already been placed, including those of Admiral Dewey and
Although built by the Episcopal Church, these cathedrals
belong in a sense to the nation, and to the world. The millions
of dollars required to build them have been given by people of
all denominations and from all over the world. Some of the
priceless decorations and furnishings have been contributed
by foreign governments.
Episcopal Schools and Institutions
The Episcopalians have founded a number of notable
preparatory schools. These are sometimes connected with
cathedrals, such as the schools alongside that of St. John the
Divine and of Sts. Peter and Paul. There are also Episcopal
colleges, including Hobart in Geneva, New York, Kenyon in
Gambier, Ohio, and the University of the South, in Sewanee,
Tennessee. Columbia University was once an Episcopal in-
stitution. There are also many Episcopal hospitals.
Perhaps more richly than any other Protestant Church,
the Episcopal Church has preserved the values in the old
Roman Catholic art, music and liturgy as aids in worship.
Those who from childhood become accustomed to the beauty
of these forms often feel that the services in other Protestant
churches are crude and lacking in emotional appeal.
7. Robert Browne
Therefore woe unto you ye blinde guides, which cast away all by
tarying for the Magistrate. ... Ye will not have the kingdome of
God, to go forward by his spirit, but by an armie and strength
forsooth; ye will not have it as Leaven hidde in three peckes of
meale, till it leaven all: ... You are offended at the basenesse and
small beginnings, and because of the troubles in beginning re-
formation, you will doe nothing.
ROBERT BROWNE, A Treatise of Reformation
without tarying for anie, and of the wickednesse of those Preachers
which will not reforme till the Magistrate commaunde or compell
Pilgrim and Puritan Reformers
The Plymouth Pilgrims were open dissenters from the
Church of England. Although the Rev. Robert Browne had
once been a respected leader among them, he was so no longer,
and they resented being dubbed "Brownists," as many people
mistakenly called them.
As a student at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge Uni-
versity, young Robert Browne had found himself in the midst
of a heated religious conflict. Dr. Thomas Cartwright, one of
his professors, was a leader of the Puritan group that was seek-
ing to reform the Church of England from within. They said
that the reformation under Henry VIII and Thomas Cranmer
had gone only half way; that a second reformation was needed.
There were still many things in the Book of Common Prayer
126 The Church Across the Street
that seemed unauthorized by the teachings of the Bible. Like
Calvin and the Presbyterians, they believed the Bible to be
the only infallible rule of faith and practice. The Bible, they
asserted, had nothing to say about archdeacons and arch-
bishops. The early churches were governed by deacons and
elders. Therefore, all the glamor of the vestments of the
prelates and the pageantry of the processions and the rule of
bishops seemed contrary to the will of God.
But Queen Elizabeth selected the bishops, and the would-
be reformers acknowledged the Queen as the rightful head of
the church. They were resolved to be loyal. So these Puritan
reformers were in a dilemma. Their reforms had to wait.
In the meantime, the Queen was determined to hold the
Church of England together in a powerful organization, of
which she was the supreme ruler on earth. To this end, she
and her Parliament commanded that all parish priests should
read in church the exact words of the English prayer book,
without omitting anything, under penalty of trial and possible
dismissal. She decreed also that priests must continue to wear
surplices, such as were worn by Roman Catholic priests. They
must continue the outward pageantry of worship in order to
impress the people. The great aim was to secure uniformity.
All the clergy who did not fully obey were accused of being
nonconformists. To make conformity more certain, Parlia-
ment passed a law making it a criminal offense to write or
publish any criticism of the church. Such repressive measures
forced this second reformation underground; pamphlets
denouncing any practices of the church had to be privately
printed and secretly circulated.
At Cambridge University, the young Mr. Browne felt
keenly the tension caused by these governmental restraints.
He believed that true religion could not be forced. He saw
Professor Cartwright deprived of his professorship. This
stirred Mr. Browne's passion to act. If the reforms were truly
required by God's will, was it right to wait "till the Magistrate
commaunde or compell them"?
After completing his studies, Robert Browne was for
ROBERT BROWNE 127
three years an instructor in Cambridge. During this time he
began preaching here and there to informal gatherings. He
did not wait to be ordained. In fact, he refused ordination by a
bishop saying that "the laying on of hands" by a bishop had
no meaning for him. Wherever Browne went, he stirred people
up to act "without tarying for anie." He called upon believers
to obey God immediately without waiting for the Queen and
her bishops to see the light. He insisted that his followers
reform their services at once without waiting for the state-
controlled church to abolish its "popish ceremonies."
So Independent Churches Began
Such bold preaching soon aroused strong opposition. Be-
fore long the young man lost his teaching post. Things became
so uncomfortable for him in Cambridge that he retired for a
while to his brother's home in the large city of Norwich. But
the irrepressible Mr. Browne soon gathered a company of like-
minded persons in Norwich who agreed to meet regularly for
prayer, thanksgiving, reading of Scriptures and preaching.
They met in his brother's home. They worshiped without the
help of stained-glass windows, or richly gowned prelates, or
processions, or organ music. Mr. Browne read to them directly
from the Bible. He usually led in prayer in his own words
rather than by what he called a "blind reading" of the prayer
book. He preached not once a month, as did many of the
Anglican ministers, but every Sunday. After the sermon, the
members of the congregation would stay to discuss freely what
he had said, for in making their covenant together, they had
"agreed to allow any member of the church to protest, appeal,
complain, exhort, dispute, reprove, etc., as he had occasion,
and yet in due order." Browne was a pioneer in methods re-
sembling those of a modern discussion group.
This worshiping, discussing group is sometimes called
the first Congregational Church in England. It was called
"Congregational" because the congregation governed its own
128 The Church Across the Street
affairs in the light of the teachings of the Bible, and not ac-
cording to the dictates of the Queen, the Parliament, or the
Mr. Browne went out into neighboring towns. By de-
scribing "the wofui and lamentable state of the church" he
stirred up other groups to separate from the Church of Eng-
land. Thus a number of self-governing societies were gathered
which took the Bible to be the only rule of faith and practice.
It was the duty of the leaders to "gather" a church of true and
tested believers. If any one lapsed morally to a serious degree,
the others were first to warn him and then, if this was of no
avail, the sinner was to be excommunicated.
Other local self-governing congregations were formed.
William Brewster gathered one of them in Scrooby. During
the next sixty years, it is said, eighty such Congregational
churches were organized in England, and many more would
doubtless have come into existence and Mr. Browne's hope of
remedying the "woful and lamentable state of the church"
might have become a reality, had it not been for the persistent
royal and ecclesiastical policy to force conformity.
The Congregational church in Norwich was broken up.
The Rev. Robert Browne was jailed, later released, and jailed
again and yet again. By his own account he was confined in
thirty-two different dungeons, some of them "so dark you
could not see your hand before your face at mid-day." Finally,
on being given his freedom for a space, he fled with some of
his followers to an island off the coast of Holland where his old
friend, Thomas Cartwright, had gone before him. Religious
rebels of many varieties sought refuge in that small land for it
granted a freedom in religion afforded then by no other coun-
try of Europe.
While in exile, Mr. Browne wrote a pamphlet to which
he gave the awesome title A Treatise of Reformation without
t arying for ante, and of the wickednesse of those Preachers,
which unll not reforme till the Magistrate commaunde or
compell them. This pamphlet was widely, though secretly,
circulated in England, and had considerable influence in en-
couraging the dissenting movement.
ROBERT BROWNE 129
The Sequel to Mr. Browne's Story
The irony in this story came a few years later when this
once bold reformer returned to England, made peace with a
bishop and accepted a post in an Anglican Church where he
served as a rector for forty years. He actually became one of
those ministers whom he had himself formerly condemned as
"wicked" ' because they waited to make reforms until com-
manded to do so by those in authority. Thus his early followers
now felt he had deserted the cause of freedom.
The Story of the Plymouth Pilgrims
The story of the Plymouth pilgrims has often been told.
Their twelve years of exile in Amsterdam and Leyden; the
final blasting of their hope of returning to England; their
realization that even in Holland they were not wholly free;
their dread of the prospect of their descendants being com-
pletely absorbed in the Dutch culture and nationality; their
vague hope to better their lot by venturing to the New World;
and the tragic story of their long voyage all these facts are
known to the boys and girls of America.
Their great minister, John Robinson, onetime fellow of
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, was unable to sail with
them to the New World, but his farewell sermon is among the
great religious utterances. A large painting of this scene hangs
in the main entrance of the Capitol in Washington. As
recorded by Winslow, later governor of Plymouth Colony, we
have this eyewitness account:
He took occasion also miserably to bewail the state and con-
dition of the Reformed Churches, who were come to a period in
religion, and would go no further than the instruments of their
Reformation. As for example, the Lutherans, they could not be
drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; for whatever part of God's
will he had further imparted and revealed to Calvin, they will
rather die than embrace it. And so also, saith he, you see the
Calvinists, they stick where he left them; a misery much to be
After a stormy crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in the tiny May-
flower, the courageous band of Pilgrims came ashore near Plym-
outh, Massachusetts. With Elder William Brewsteras their spirit-
ual leader, they observed their first Sunday in America. (H. Arm-
132 The Church Across the Street
lamented: for though they were precious shining lights in their
times, yet God had not revealed his whole will to them; and were
they now living saith he, they would be as ready and willing to
embrace further light as that they had received. Here also he put
us in mind of our church covenant, at least that part of it whereby
we promise and covenant with God, and one with another, to
receive whatever light or truth shall be made known to us from
his written word; . . , 1
The Puritans of Massachusetts Bay
Again we find another name that is a key to a long history.
Although the Pilgrims of Plymouth have often been referred
to as "Puritans/' the name does not really apply to them. The
Pilgrims of Plymouth were "Separatists." The majority of the
"Puritans," on the other hand, although critical of the Church
of England in which they had been reared, did not wish to
break with it. They wanted to help purify the church of its
"corruptions" by working within it rather than by separating
from it. Because the Massachusetts Bay Colony had. been pro-
moted very largely by a group of rather wealthy merchants in
England, the settlers in that colony had more at stake than did
the Pilgrims of Plymouth in preserving friendly relations with
the king of England and its Church.
Their Earlier Experiences in England
Before coming to America, the Puritans of the Massachu-
setts Bay Colony had for the most part belonged to the moder-
ate party of reformers. When the Scottish son of Mary, Queen
of Scots, came to the throne of England in 1603 as James I,
these Puritans had high hopes of seeing some real reforms
brought about. They said: "James I comes to us from the land
of John Knox. He himself has been reared in the Presbyterian
Church. Surely he will side with the reformers."
1 John Cuckson, A Brief History of the First Church in Plymouth, from
1606 to 1901 (Boston, 1902) , pp. 22-23.
ROBERT BROWNE 133
A group of Anglican ministers, therefore, decided to
make use of their opportunity, and prepared a long and care-
fully worded petition. They chose a skillful representative to
present it to James I at a specially arranged conference at
Hampton Court, a royal palace on the Thames. This petition
is remembered as "the Millenary Petition" because the plan
was to secure for it the signatures of one thousand Anglican
First of all, these reformers made it clear that they wished
"the doctrine of the church preserved pure and simple ac-
cording to God's Word." These Puritans were by no means
theological heretics: in fact, they favored longer and stricter
creeds. In the petition, they were bent on purifying the
Church of corrupt and medieval practices.
They did, however, propose some important changes in
the prayer book, and they asked for a new translation of the
Bible into English. They protested against "the dumb minis-
ters," that is, ministers who on Sunday morning merely read
sermons that had been written for them, or perhaps did not
preach at all. These reformers urged the authorities to educate
ministers so that they could preach sermons of their own.
The petitioners objected also to the practice of the clergy
of wearing at the services the white embroidered surplices over
their plain black gowns. Other "popish" practices were
condemned, such as kneeling when partaking of the Lord's
Supper. This they said was idolatry, making the bread and
wine appear as objects of worship. They rejected also the
idolatrous use of the sign of the cross in baptism, because the
Scriptures do not require it.
The petitioners asked also that the celebration of the
many Saints* Days be abandoned and that the Sabbath be made
the one most important day. They asserted that after services
in the church, the people should not treat the Sabbath as a
holiday, with archery contests, dancing and mirth, but should
spend it as Moses commanded. They contended that the Old
Testament law concerning the Sabbath had not been abolished
after the death of Christ, but that God had the Sabbath trans-
ferred to Sunday.
134 The Church Across the Street
"I Will Harry Them Out of the Land!"
All these reforms King James might have granted had
not some of the Puritans irritated him by asking in addition
for a revision in the plan of governing the churches. These
Puritans wanted to have the right to govern vested in small
groups of elected elders within each congregation a plan
which did away with most of the powers already exercised by
English bishops and archbishops. In short, these petitioners
were seeking to introduce into the Anglican Church the Pres-
byterian form of government.
King James I, however, had already had enough of pres-
byteries in Scotland. He had come to the English throne deter-
mined that, like the Tudor kings before him, he, James Stuart,
would continue to hold the supreme power as the earthly head
of the church. He would no longer be dictated to by groups of
He, therefore, finally ended the discussion by thundering
his scornful reply. " A Scottish Presbytery as well agreeth with
a monarchy as God and the Devil/* . . . "No bishops, no king/'
. . . "No! I will make these Puritans reform or I will harry
them out of the land, or worse. . . /'
King James meant what he said. The only important re-
form that came out of this Hampton Court conference was a
decision to have a new translation of the Bible prepared. This
translation has been ever since the authorized English version
of the Bible for all Protestant groups the world over. In this
King James' Version, his Majesty's memory has been honor-
The "Millenary Petition/' however, had merely stiffened
the King's antagonism toward the Puritans. Almost at once he
caused to be published a short book of laws governing Church
matters. They declared that the Book of Common Prayer must
be used word for word in all the churches. All private religious
meetings must be suppressed. All ministers must declare their
belief in a creed which had been adopted in 1571, called the
Thirty-Nine Articles. Every person in the realm must attend
Communion in some Anglican church at least three times a
ROBERT BROWNE 135
The strength of the reforming group within the Church
is shown by the fact that within one year fifteen hundred An-
glican ministers were deprived of their posts because of their
refusal to accept such restrictions.
In 1625, Charles I came to the throne and William Laud
became his chief counselor. In 1633, Laud was made Arch-
bishop of Canterbury. An even more determined campaign
than had been waged under James I, was then begun in an
effort to drive out all varieties of non-conformity. During the
reign of Charles I, when persecution of Puritans and open
dissenters reached its height, thousands fled to America.
Beginning about 1630, ten years after the Pilgrims first
landed, the Puritans began making settlements in and around
what is now Boston Harbor. Once in America, they had their
chance to build the kind of churches for which they had been
hoping, for as yet the English government had not sent any
bishops to govern the churches in America. It is not surprising
then that the Pilgrims* First Church in Plymouth received
brotherly recognition from the Puritans. In the Massachusetts
Bay Colony a system of church government was worked out,
called at first "The New England Way/' Before long these
New England churches were given the name Congregational.
All the stone walls, behind which Browne and many
others who believed in "reformation without tarying for anie"
had been imprisoned, could not stifle the growing democracy
within the newly gathered Congregational churches; nor did
the broad Atlantic prevent our New England forefathers from
bringing with them their strict Calvinism and their stern
Scriptural codes of morals.
"The Church of the Puritans"
To one who knows America, the mention of New Eng-
land brings a vision of beautiful wooded hills, rambling old
136 The Church Across the Street
houses painted a spotless white set back on broad streets lined
with elms, all radiating from a common grassy green and
somewhere, not far from the center of the village, a venerable
white pillared wooden church with its spire of white piercing
the blue sky overhead. Even from colonial days such vistas
have been as characteristic of New England as the Gothic stone
churches have been symbols of old England.
Nor is the central position of the little white church in
the New England town the result of accident. To our Pilgrim
and Puritan forefathers, religion lived at the heart of life. It
was the most logical thing in the world to put the house of
worship in the heart of the village. The ' 'meetinghouse* ' under
the colonial laws was erected at town expense, maintained by
taxation, and used not alone for worship but on weekdays also
for town meetings and other public events.
The sturdy initiative which our colonial forebears de-
manded in political affairs they insisted on even more staunch-
ly in religion. Not only the Pilgrims, but the Puritans as well,
organized churches in which each congregation, in accordance
with the colonial laws, was free to govern its own affairs, and
to call as its minister any qualified man whom the congrega-
tion might elect as their pastor or teacher.
Church Life in Colonial Days
In a New England village of colonial days going to church
was a major activity, for there were church services twice on
Sunday, and usually in the large towns there was a religious
lecture in the middle of the week besides. In winter whatever
warmth there was in the meetinghouse came from the fiery
eloquence of the minister, for there were no furnaces nor even
stoves. Little footstoves heated by burning charcoal were car-
ried to church by or for the ladies.
Men, women and children sat by groups in separate sec-
tions of the meetinghouse. In the earliest days the children sat
in the gallery under the care of a tithing man, who was an
official with a long stick. On one end of the stick was a knob;
Church services in the early days in New England lasted many
hours. In winter the church was not heated., so many in the con-
gregation like this mother and daughter used foot stoves to
keep warm. By W. L. Taylor. (The Bettmann Archive)
138 The Church Across the Street
on the other end a feather. The tithing man used It at his dis-
cretion to keep the children awake and quiet.
Sermons were usually long. One wonders what the chil-
dren thought of as the minister passed from his "firstly"
through his "secondly/' "thirdly" and on and on sometimes
for two or three hours, or until the last bit of wisdom had been
extracted from his text. To Calvinists and to Separatists of all
kinds the sermon was far more important than it was to many
Anglicans and to nearly all Roman Catholics, for religion to
the Separatists was based on a detailed and adequate under-
standing of the Word of God. By contrast, the Anglicans wor-
shiped in accordance with their Book of Common Prayer.
Children were expected to understand and accept the
traditional beliefs at an early age, and to repent of their sins.
The Rev. Cotton Mather, one of the eminent Congregational
preachers in New England, said in a sermon for children in
If you dye in your sins what will become of you? An Aking
Tooth for One Month, how tedious it would be unto me here. But
if I lie down among the damned I must undergo much worse griefs
than that, and after as many millions of years, as there are leaves
on the Trees, or Drops in the Sea, or Sands in the Shore, I have no
prospect of any peace. 2
The Discipline of the Children
Some children seem to have caused the authorities
trouble, for we find a certain Connecticut judge commenting
in court on one child's behavior in these words:
A rude and Idel Behaver in the meting hows such as Smiling
and Larfing and Intiseing others to the Same Evil.
Such as whispering and Larfing in the meting hows between
2 Sandford Fleming, Children and Puritanism (New Haven: Yale Uni-
versity Press 1933) , p. 96.
ROBERT BROWNE 159
Such as Larfing or Smiling and puling the heir of nayber
benonl Simklns In the time of publlck Worship.
Such as playing with her Hand and fingers at her heir.
Such as throwing Sister penticost perkins on the ice it being
Saboth Day or Lords Day between the meting hows and his plaes
of abode. 3
Music in the Church Services
There were no organs in these chilly New England meet-
inghouses, for our Puritan ancestors did not find In the New
Testament authority for having them. Opponents of organs
called them "boxes of whistles."
As late as early in the eighteenth century, the Brattle
Street Congregational Church in Boston refused the gift of an
organ. Even fiddles in some places were objected to because of
words attributed to God in the book of Amos, "I will not hear
the melody of thy viols." (Amos 5:23) In early days choirs did
not exist. When these were finally introduced, they were put
into the gallery at the back of the church. In some churches
the congregation turned around to face the choir so that the
singing of the congregation would not drag.
In place of hymns, the Psalms were put into verse and
sung. Since books were scarce, the Psalm was "lined out," that
is, one or two lines were first read by the deacon, and then sung
by the congregation. The first important book printed in New
England was the Bay Psalm Book.
The Church Today
Because the local churches have always jealously guarded
their independence they came to be known as Congregational,
and this name is still given them in many places. Despite this
concern for local autonomy they have been pioneers in the
movement for church union. Three such fusions have been
accomplished, largely through Congregational initiative, and
3 /&<*., p. 63.
140 The Church Across the Street
a fourth Is being consummated. The first was in 1892, when
the Congregational Methodists and Congregationalists united.
Then in 1923 the Evangelical Protestants joined the larger
Congregational fellowship. A third and greater union oc-
curred (1930) when the Christian Church 4 joined the Congre-
gationalists. This united organization became known as the
Congregational Christian Church, and in 1957 had a member-
ship of about 1 M million, spread among some 5,500 congrega-
tions. In that year, after prolonged negotiations, a fourth
union was voted, this time with the Evangelical and Reformed
Church, which numbered 2,750 local churches and about
Unlike the Congregationalists, these Evangelical and Re-
formed churches had a presbyterian type of organization but
both denominations were similar in the emphasis they put on
a well-educated ministry. As the name suggests, the Evangeli-
cal and Reformed Church was itself the product of a merger.
One of the two parent organizations, the Reformed Church,
grew out of the immigration about two centuries ago into
Pennsylvania of Calvinists from Germany and Switzerland.
The other had Lutheran roots and was known as the Evangeli-
cal Synod, its churches being largely centered in the midwest.
The two merged in 1934 to form the Evangelical and Re-
formed Church. It was notable for its efforts to better the lot
of the aged and orphans. Now, since union with the Congre-
gationalists, the merged denominations are known as the
United Church of Christ. They became one of the large Prot-
estant groups in the United States. Their combined member-
ship exceeds 2 million, and they have over 1 million pupils
and teachers in their church schools. There are churches in
Members of these churches still maintain the traditional
vigorous initiative of their immigrant ancestors. Local
*Not to be confused with the Disciples of Christ, often called the
"Christian Church" (Chapter 12) .
ROBERT BROWNE 141
churches are self-governing, but in case of serious division on
some question (such as whether a minister should stay or go),
other churches of the neighborhood may be called in to join
with the local church in discussing the thorny problem. Con-
gregational churches called this a council of the vicinage
(neighborhood). Each church invited sends its pastor and a
delegate. The council hears both sides and gives advice. Al-
though the local church may vote not to follow the advice, it
usually accepts it.
Each church of the merged denomination, as has always
been the case among Congregational churches, has the right
to decide upon its own creed or statement of faith (if it elects
to use one), and the minister who is called is supposed to be in
general agreement with this creed, although he is not required
to sign any document to that effect.
The National Organization
As the need for cooperative planning developed, Con-
gregational churches gradually developed a truly effective and
democratic form of national organization without sacrificing
the independence of the local church. It was called the General
Council, and was made up of delegates from the local churches,
elected by the state conferences. It has now been superseded
by a similar body known as The General Synod. Meetings are
held at regular intervals to deliberate on matters of general
interest. By means of committees with efficient secretaries
many kinds of cooperative work are carried out.
Educational and Missionary Work
When there was still an American frontier, Congrega-
tionalists were active in founding schools and colleges to keep
pace with the westward march of civilization. Among them
were Oberlin in Ohio, Beloit in Wisconsin, Carleton in Min-
nesota, Doane in Nebraska (also Episcopalian-sponsored), and
142 The Church Across the Street
Colorado College In Colorado. Amherst College In Massa-
chusetts also owed Its founding to the Congregational Church.
Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, and Heidel-
berg College in Ohio, were likewise started by the Reformed
Church. Albright, also in Pennsylvania, and North Central
College in Illinois, owe their existence to Evangelical efforts.
To the Congregationalists belongs the honor of being
the first Protestant Church to send missionaries to the Indians
of New England. John Eliot of Roxbury began such work in
1 646. The Congregationalists also organized the first Ameri-
can Protestant foreign missionary society. In the summer of
1806 a group of five college students at Williams College were
in the habit of taking walks together in the country to talk
over their obligation to the heathen in Asia. One afternoon,
because of a heavy rainstorm, they were compelled to find
shelter under a haystack. There that afternoon they secretly
pledged themselves to go to some foreign land and preach the
Christian gospel to those who had never heard it. Four years
later these same students sent a petition to the Congregational
General Association in Massachusetts, telling of their resolve
and asking for "advice, direction and prayers." As a result, the
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was
organized in 1810, and these five men became the first Ameri-
can Protestant foreign missionaries. Other Protestant groups
began to organize missionary societies, and thus the great
Protestant movement in America to spread Christianity into
all the world was initiated. This work is being continued un-
der the United Church Board for World Ministries, which
has an active missionary program in eighteen countries. Wil-
liams College is often called "the Mother of American Foreign
Missions." The Haystack Monument on the campus of Wil-
liams College memorializes that eventful rainy afternoon.
Under the American Missionary Association of the Con-
gregational Church, organized to further Christian work on
the home front, active efforts have been made to improve the
lot of the Negro, especially in the South. Negro colleges were
organized just after the Civil War when there were few other
educational opportunities beyond elementary school open to
ROBERT BROWNE 143
those with colored skins. Among them were Tougaloo South-
ern Christian College (now sponsored jointly with the Dis-
ciples of Christ) in Mississippi, and Talladega College in
Alabama. Work such as this, and other humanitarian and mis-
sionary activities in the United States, are continued for the
United Church under the United Church Board for Home-
Thus this great merged denomination, still as democratic
and independent as were its English, Swiss and German found-
ers, though more liberal theologically, less rigid in its moral
code, and more sensitive to the larger economic, social and
international needs of mankind, continues to be a vigorous
element in American religious life.
8. John Bunyan
My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage,
and my courage and skill to him that can get it.
JOHN BUNYAN, last words of Valiant-for-Truth
before he passed over the River of Death and into the Celestial
\VTien thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words, than thy
words without a heart.
The Tinker Who Couldn't Be
To a visitor three centuries ago the town of Bedford,
near London, probably seemed a sleepy community where
nothing of consequence ever happened. If he indulged any
such feeling he might indeed have been pardoned, for the
town was already more than a thousand years old, and nothing
memorable had ever happened there that is, nothing memo-
rable to those outside Bedfordshire. Weddings, births and
deaths came as unfailingly as the days followed the nights.
For centuries there had been public fields and woods
within the township, and any man who plowed a part of these
public lands could reap the harvest; or any herdsman who
needed pasture for his sheep or cattle could let them graze
there. But now the wealthy had been buying up these public
lands and enclosing them behind fences, and the poor were
JOHN BUNYAN 145
left helpless and resentful. Many self-respecting and Inde-
pendent farmers had been forced to beg or to toil as serfs on
the large estates. The commerce in coal carried down the
Ouse River was still brisk but not what it had been. Like an
old man, the town of Bedford was slowing its pace.
A Woman's Bold Pleading
Thus things were one summer day in August 1661.
Whether it was the hard times that were bothering old Judge
Twisden that morning as his carriage rumbled down the
rutted street, or just a recurrence of the gout, one cannot say.
Perhaps he was feeling a new burden of responsibility now
that Charles II was on the throne, and the Puritan Common-
wealth under Oliver Cromwell was a thing of the past. Possibly
orders had reached him from London to be more strict with
all dissenters, and the judge dreaded facing the prisoners
awaiting trial. In any case, his mood boded no good for those
whose cases he was to pass upon at that day's session of the
Nor did it promise encouragement to the peasant woman
who ran into the street and threw a petition into his coach.
Annoyed he probably was, yet there was a desperation in the
woman's actions that compelled his attention. Still the road-
side was no place in which to hold court.
"I tell thee, woman, it is of no use. Thy husband must
remain in gaol until he promises not to preach."
"But, my Lord, he hath not yet even been permitted to
answer the indictment, though he hath languished in gaol
from April till now. And what of our four children, my Lord?
They are too young to work. They must have food."
"What if it be so! Thy husband might have brought that
to mind before. He is a pestilent fellow. Speak to me of him
With that the Judge drove off, and the young woman,
with her hopes once more crushed, stood still in the roadway,
unable to decide in which direction to turn.
146 The Church Across the Street
Presently a kindly bystander approached, whom she
recognized as the high sheriff. This was scarcely a quarter from
which to look for encouragement, but one could never tell.
"Woman, thou mayest yet have a chance to present thy
husband's case. Why dost thou not try once more, when the
Assize is over, but before the judges depart?"
The woman's face brightened. Perhaps, after all, there
was still some hope.
Several days later, therefore, she made her ivay into the
crowded court room, and faced the judges. She told them she
had already gone to London to plead her husband's cause
before Lord Barkwood. He in turn had presented it to mem-
bers of the House of Lords, but they had all agreed that there
was nothing they could do. She should bring the matter up
again before the next assizes in Bedfordshire. In coming before
their Honors now she was simply following the advice of the
Lords. Her husband had been held in prison over four months
without trial. In the meantime she and her four children, one
of whom was blind, "had nothing to live on but the charity of
Again the woman's pleadings were of no use. The only
justice who showed any sign of mercy was speedily silenced by
his angry colleagues.
"Thy husband preacheth not the word of God. He ought
rather to have kept to his pots and pans. Instead he runneth
up and down the countryside doing only harm. Thy poverty
thou usest only as a cloak."
Many other words were said, heartless as these. The cou-
rageous mother could do nothing but depart.
The Indictment and the Man
Who then was this man? Why was he regarded as more
dangerous to the country's welfare than other dissenters? What
had he done to deserve such treatment?
A tinker and the son of a tinker whose ancestors had lived
in a cottage in the little village of Elstow near Bedford for
JOHN BUN Y AN 147
three hundred years. This was John Bunyan red-haired, tall,
big-boned, with an infectious personality in spite of his meager
schooling. Of his own boyhood he wrote: "Notwithstanding
the meanness and inconsiderableness of my parents, it pleased
God to put it into their hearts to put me to school, to learn me
both to read and write; the which I also attained, according to
the rate of other poor men's children/'
And what had he done beside mending pots and pans to
merit imprisonment? What was the indictment that had been
brought against him? The paper read before the court had
stated that this John Bunyan "was arrested for devilishly and
perniciously abstaining from coming to church to hear divine
service, and for being a common upholder of several unlawful
meetings and conventicles to the great disturbance and dis-
traction of the good subjects of this kingdom, contrary to the
laws of our sovereign Lord and King/' Here then was another
of these self-made unordained preachers stirring up the people
against the established church. But what kind of a noncon-
formist was this John Bunyan? Again we must take up the
story at an earlier date.
A Ringleader in the Village
If we take John Bunyan's own word for the truth, he was
a bad boy, "one that had but few equals both for cursing,
swearing, and blaspheming the holy name of God." . . . "Until
I came to the state of marriage, I was the very ringleader of all
the youth that kept me company, in all manner of vice and
ungodliness/* "I infected all the youth of the town where I
was born/' Apparently the blackest sin of which he was guilty,
at least from our point of view, was a blood-curdling profanity.
But John Bunyan included as sins other matters, such as his
fondness for pealing the church bells and his love of folk-
dancing and games on the village green, especially on Sundays.
Under the influence of the Puritan teachings to which he had
been subjected as a boy, John Bunyan saw himself as a great
sinner. From his early years he was tormented at night with
dreams of devils and the sufferings of hell.
148 The Church Across the Street
When nearly sixteen years old, family tragedies began
to tumble in quick succession over his head. In June his
mother died. In July his sister passed away. Then in August
his father remarried. John Bunyan's home life was completely
changed and the depths of bitterness must have been stirred
in his heart.
John Bunyan as a Soldier
Fortunately perhaps for John, he left home soon after
this series of tragedies, and for about three years he was a
soldier in Cromwell's army.
In this army, he was "tossed into a society where -every
revolutionary idea was being thrown into the cauldron of de-
bate; ideas not only religious, but political, social, and eco-
nomic." 1 The depressed classes were roused. Everywhere was
heard the democratic cry "All men are equal in the sight of
God/* "A fair share of the riches of the earth is the people's
birthright." It was for these common rights that the soldiers in
Cromwell's army thought they were fighting. The rich were
being openly denounced as murderers of the poor. They were
stealing the public lands for their own special benefit. A com-
munistic dream had come to the people of Bunyan's day.
Religious Debates Over Baptism
In those days, debates over religious questions were as
exciting as ball games are to young men today. In one of the
barracks a debate over whether or not babies should be bap-
tized had brought on a riot. A new kind of dissenter was
scattering the seeds of division in England. No one outstanding
person was their leader. The contagion had taken hold of
many people. Nor was the idea new. Had the people known
their history, they would have realized that as far back as the
third century there had been men and women who had pro-
1 M. P. Willcocks, Bunyan Calling (London: Allen & Unwin) , p. 37.
JOHN BUNYAN 149
tested against the baptism of babies. Hundreds had even suf-
fered martyrdom banishment, drowning, burning at the
stake rather than be compelled to baptize their babies.
These English protestors were of the spirit and convic-
tion of the Anabaptists in Germany and Switzerland, although
they did not go to the extremes of nonresistance to royal
authority. These new protestors were now usually called sim-
ply Baptists, and many of them were fighting in Cromwell's
army. But why should such a fuss be made over the baptizing
of babies? What harm in so simple a ceremony as the sprin-
kling of water over the head of a child and saying a prayer for
To the Baptists, the whole matter had become a serious
issue. In the first place, they said that no reference to the
baptism of babies could be found in the New Testament.
Baptism in the primitive church was a symbolic act that stood
for a change of heart. It marked the entering upon a Christian
life, the committing of one's destiny to Christ as Savior. The
Baptists held to the Bible, rather than to the traditions of the
church, as their authority.
In the second place, the Baptists said that no parent could
take such a step for his child. No person could make such an
important decision for another. No man could believe for an-
other. Parents could teach their children, but they had no
right to commit them to any special line of conduct before
they were old enough to know what they were doing. The
Baptists said that each individual is responsible for his own
life before God, and that baptism should be withheld until a
person was able to make his own decision for himself.
Why Riots over not Baptizing Babies?
It seems strange to us today that so reasonable a position
should have been fought with such furious resistance. Again
the seriousness of the issue is realized only when one under-
stands the generally accepted philosophy of life, as contained
in the Old Story of Salvation. If, for instance, one believes that
150 The Church Across the Street
even innocent babies are sinners and liable to eternal damna-
tion unless saved by the power of Jesus Christ, it is important
that something be done promptly.
Early in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, the
baptism of infants had been made a sacrament by means of
which a child was given safety in the protecting arms of the
Church. It was a kind of eternal life insurance against hell.
Even according to the prayer book used in all the established
Protestant churches in England, the baptism of babies was re-
garded in the same manner. Before sprinkling the child's head,
the minister always prayed this prayer. "Sanctify this water to
the mystical washing away of sin." In short, the baptism of
babies was not a symbol of something that had already taken
place in the heart of the child. It was rather a sacrament, an
act having divine "grace" in it. It did not matter whether the
child understood or not what was being done to him. By the
act of baptism his guilt was washed away and God could re-
ceive the child into heaven if he died.
These Baptists, like the Quakers, were against all such
sacramental acts, against forms without the spirit. They in-
sisted that baptism stood for an important commitment that
had already taken place in the heart of the believer. What
would happen if babies died unbaptized could be left with
God, Some asserted that God would not send innocent babies
to eternal punishment. Others even ridiculed infant baptism
by saying: "It is as lawful to baptize a cat, or a dog, or a chicken
as to baptize an infant."
The Years of Indecision
How much of all this feverish debating John Bunyan
heard during his three years in the army, we do not know. He
had not yet made his own great decision.
While in the army the turmoil in the life of John Bunyan
had to do with the society to which he belonged. During the
next several years after his return to the village of Elstow, the
turmoil was within John Bunyan 's own heart. The story of
JOHN BUN Y AN 1 5 1
these years of struggle, Bunyan has told In a book which he
called Grace Abounding to the Greatest of Sinners. As an
honest and vivid revelation o the inner secrets of a man's
soul, the book ranks among the greatest autobiographies ever
The turning point in his religious Interest came with his
marriage. "This woman and I," wrote Bunyan, "came together
as poor as might be, not having so much household stuff as a
dish or spoon betwixt us both." The bride, however, did bring
with her a reverent memory of a pious father, and a library of
two books. And what were the titles? The Practice of Piety
and The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven two of the best
sellers of that time. When the day's work was done, John used
to sit with his young wife before the open fire in their thatched
cottage, and by the light of a tallow candle he would read from
one or other of these books. Before long a crib stood between
their chairs and a little blind daughter slept peacefully under
the spell of the rhythm of Bunyan's reading.
Slowly John Bunyan's interests began to change. He be-
came a faithful attendant at the little village church, going
sometimes even twice a day to worship. But for some reason
what he heard "did not reach the heart/' Something else was
beginning to touch it. Perhaps it was his little blind daughter
who became so very dear to him that he could scarcely bear
"to let the wind blow upon her/'
"Sometimes Up and Sometimes Down"
He wrote: "One day as I was in the midst of a game of
Cat, and having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was
about to strike it the second time, a voice did suddenly dart
from heaven into my soul, which said, 'Wilt thou leave thy
sins and go to heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell?' " The
issue was just as clear-cut as that, yet, those things which he
called his "sins" seemed strangely fascinating. In spite of this
definite warning, he made as much haste as he could to have
his fill of sin, "that he might taste the sweetness thereof," lest
he should die before he had had his desires.
152 The Church Across the Street
His uneasiness, however, grew. He began searching in
the Bible for some word that would give him assurance of
peace. But Bunyan had a hearty humor and a vigorous body.
He loved his fiddle and the dancing of the Morris dances on
the village green. He yearned to drink the full cup of life with
all its delicious pleasures.
His swearing had become a symbol of his fearless defiance
of restraint. One day a woman of loose living habits heard him
swear and curse loudly in a rage and called him the "un-
godliest fellow for swearing she had ever heard in all her life."
This experience shocked the man into a complete reform
on that score. For a whole year he struggled over the question
of dancing before he finally gave this up also. As the months
passed his conscience became
sore and would smart at every touch I durst not take a
pin or stick, though so big as a straw I could not now tell how
to speak my words, for fear I should misplace them. ... I found
myself in a miry bog, that shook if I did but stir.
The tempter would also much assault me with this, "How
can you tell but that the Turks had as good Scriptures to prove
their Mahomet the Savior as we have to prove our Jesus?" And,
could I think, that so many ten thousands in so many countries
and kingdoms, should be without the knowledge of the right way
to heaven (if there were indeed a heaven) that we only, who live
in a corner of the earth, should alone be blessed therewith? Every-
one doth think his own religion lightest, both Jews and Moors,
and Pagans; and how if all our faith, and Christ, and Scriptures,
should be but a think so too?
John Bunyan found it hard to escape from Doubting
Castle. Sometimes "down I fell, as a bird shot from the top of
a tree, into great guilt and fearful despair . . . and would get
out of bed and go moping into the field/'
The Women Sitting in the Sun
One day while on his rounds mending pots and pans in
Bedford, he came upon "three or four poor women sitting at a
JOHN BUNYAN 153
door, in the sun, talking about the things of God; and being
now willing to hear their discourse, I drew near to hear what
they said. But I may say, 'I heard, but understood not; for
they were far above, out of my reach/ Their talk was about a
new birth, the work of God in their hearts. . . .They spoke with
such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such ap-
pearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me, as if
they had found a new world."
These women Bunyan never forgot. Sometime afterward
he had a dream or vision. He wrote:
I saw as if they were on the sunny side on some high moun-
tain, there refreshing themselves with the pleasant beams of the
sun, while I was shivering and shrinking in the cold, afflicted with
frost, snow, and dark clouds; me thought also, betwixt me and
them, I saw a wall that did compass about this mountain. Now
through this wall, my soul did greatly desire to pass; . . . About
this wall I bethought myself to go again and again, still praying as
I went, to see if I could find some way or passage, by which I might
enter therein: but none could I find for some time; at the last I
saw, as it were, a narrow gap, like a little doorway in the wall,
through which I attempted to pass; now the passage was very
straight and narrow, I made many offers to get in, but all in vain.
... At last, with great striving, methought I at first did get in my
head, and after that, by a sideling striving, my shoulders, and my
whole body: then I was exceeding glad, and went and sat down in
the midst of them, and so was comforted with the light and heat
of their sun.
To John Bunyan this dream became a parable of his life.
The wall was the world. The gap in the wall was Jesus Christ.
The life in the sunshine was the life eternal. None but those
who were in downright earnest could enter through the gap
for "here was only room for body and soul, but not for body
and soul and sin."
Bunyan's dream of entering into the sunshine beyond
the wall was but a prelude to the commitment of his life to the
righteousness of Christ and to the peace of mind that came
with his belief that by Christ's great sacrifice he was at last
154 The Church Across the Street
"within the arms of God's grace and mercy." When this de-
cision was once made, John Bunyan sought to symbolize his
"downright earnestness" by being immersed in the Ouse
River. In so doing he became a member of an independent
congregation that was then meeting in St. John's Church in
Bedford, a church which later was definitely called Baptist.
A Quiet Period Then Imprisonment
For five years John Bunyan lived quietly among the
country folk with whom he had long been acquainted.
Through the day he mended their pots and pans and in the
evenings he spoke at informal gatherings out in the fields,
in country barns or on the village green. While Oliver Crom-
well ruled the land, all went well. When Charles II ascended
the throne, however, the nonconformists found themselves
being spied upon and their liberty checked.
So it came about that on a November day in 1660, men
and women in twos and threes were going to a farmhouse near
the little village of Samsell to hear John Bunyan talk. Bunyan
had been forewarned of the rumors that he would be arrested,
but he refused to hide. "If we give in so easily/' he said, "what
will our enemies think of our religion?"
To make a long story short, he was arrested on the charge
previously explained. With but one brief interlude of freedom
six years later, John Bunyan was kept in the Bedford prison
without trial from 1660 to 1672 that is, for nearly twelve
long years. Then came about three years of freedom followed
by another six months in jail.
The Light Behind the Cloud
Distressing as this long imprisonment must have been
both for Bunyan himself and for his faithful wife and children,
nevertheless the spirit was never conquered. Nor did he leave
his wife and children completely without some help from him.
As a dissenter, John Bunyan spent almost thirteen years in prison
at Bedford. Here he wrote the first part of his most famous book
whose full title is The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to
That Which Is to Come, (Keystone View Co.)
156 The Church Across the Street
During many a long hour of captivity, he knit "many hundred
gross of tagg'd laces/* from which his wife could earn at least
a pittance toward the family's support.
Far more important in the history of the world than
Bunyan's fidelity to his family is the fact that during these long
years of confinement, he wrote in all about sixty books some
of which proved to be among the most popular books of his
generation. Among the last of his writings, and a climax to
them all, was the immortal Pilgrim's Progress, which after
nearly three hundred years is still in print and widely read.
During Bunyan's lifetime 100,000 copies were sold. Since that
time it has been translated into over 120 different languages.
Pilgrim's Progress has been perhaps the most widely read book
in the world with the exception of the Christian and Jewish
The Pilgrim's Progress
Bunyan tells the story of Pilgrim's Progress as a dream,
which he says came to him as he lay asleep in his prison cell.
Who has not heard of Christian and of the places through
which he passed as he made his pilgrimages from the City of
Destruction to the Celestial City of God? Vanity Fair, the
Slough of Despond, Doubting Castle, the Delectable Moun-
tains and the Valley of the Shadow of Death. And some of his
characters were once household words in many homes around
the world, such as Obstinate and Pliable, Mr. Worldly- Wise-
man, Mr. Facing-both-Ways, Giant Despair, Great-Heart,
Madam Bubble and Mr. Valiant-for-Truth.
The Last Years
Finally in 1672, even before his release from prison, the
Bedford church elected John Bunyan as its minister. For-
tunately, he did not have to wait long for freedom, for the king
i, engraved especially for "Virtue's Elegant Edition of
The Pilgrim's Progress," jAotw ^^ ^fl/A iaA^n by Christian in
that famous allegory. (Keystone View Co.)
158 The Church Across the Street
had just made a solemn declaration again granting the right
to believe and worship as conscience dictated. This toleration,
however, did not last long. Dissenters were again being perse-
cuted. Ruinous fines were imposed upon them and many lost
everything they owned. The authorities seized the cows,
horses, poultry even bedding and kitchen utensils of those
who could not pay the fines.
In 1675, Bunyan was again thrown into prison, but his
friends intervened. He was released after only six months in
jail. From that time on until his death, twelve years later, he
was a free man. Because of the popularity of his books, he was
by then a well-known man. On horseback he roamed the
country as a recognized leader of the Baptists of England.
There was a charm and tenderness and power -in his
preaching that held his hearers spellbound. One of his con-
When Mr. Bunyan preached in London, if there were but
one day's notice given, there would be more people come together
to hear him preach than the meeting-house could hold. I have
seen to hear him preach, by my computation, about twelve hun-
dred at a morning lecture by seven o'clock on a working day, in
the dark winter-time. I also computed about three thousand that
came to hear him one Lord's Day at London ... so that half were
fain to go back again for want of room. 2
John Bunyan was a Baptist, and the Baptist denomina-
tion has good reason to be proud of him; but he founded no
Church. There was nothing narrow in his loyalty. Neither the
mode of baptism, nor the time of baptism seemed to him to be
matters important enough to divide the righteous from the
righteous. When once his tolerance was denounced as weak-
ness he protested. "Because I will not let Water Baptism be
the rule, the door, the bolt, the bar, the wall of division be-
tween the righteous and the righteous, must I therefore be
2 Charles Doe, The Struggle* (1692) , quoted by John Brown in his John
Bunyan; His Life, Times and Work (London, 1918) , II, 127-128.
JOHN BUXYAN 159
judged to be a man without a conscience? The Lord deliver
me from Superstition/*
John Bunyan's conscience was nothing to tinker with.
He refused to evade an issue by two-faced words in order to
escape imprisonment. No one has ever stood more foursquare
for religious freedom. We can easily hear John Bunyan him-
self speaking through the words he put into the mouth of
Valiant-for-Truth as he talked with By-Ends.
"If you will go with us, you must go against wind and
tide. . . . You must own Religion in his rags, as well as when
in his silver slippers; and stand by him, too, when bound in
irons, as well as when he walketh the streets with applause/'
The Baptists in America
When John Bunyan was but a three-year-old toddler,
Roger Williams, a radical young Anglican minister, had al-
ready separated himself from the established Church, and had
fled with his young bride to America. Here he imagined he
would find freedom from laws against nonconformity in re-
ligion, but the Massachusetts Puritans cared for freedom in
religion only for themselves and for those who were like them.
They had not yet separated Church from State. No one in the
colony could vote or hold office unless he belonged to a
"gathered" Congregational Church, even though but one
fourth of the colonists met the qualifications required for
In addition, the Puritan churches had not separated defi-
nitely from the Church of England. The merchants, who sailed
on business trips to England, took communion with their
brethren in the Anglican Church. Roger Williams believed
that such communion with the Anglicans was sinful because,
as he said, the Church of England was founded on anti-Chris-
160 The Church Across the Street
A Man of "Dangerous Opinions"
When, therefore, Williams was invited by the church in
Boston to become its minister, he refused because he felt it
would be wrong to serve a church that had not completely
separated. "Friends," he said, "ye should repent in sackcloth
and ashes for this sinful connection." This the Puritans of
Boston were unwilling to do. Their relations with the English
Crown were already too precarious to permit such an open
Williams said also that the civil authorities of the colony
should have no power to enforce or punish the breaking of
the first four of the Ten Commandments that deal with one's
duties to God. For example, he declared that the government
has no right to punish men for not observing the Sabbath. In
addition to these two bold criticisms of conditions in Boston,
Williams said that the royal charter granting to the colonists
the right to settle in Massachusetts was worthless. He insisted
that the land did not belong to the king but to the Indians
who had been living on it from time immemorial. It was from
the Indians that the colonists should purchase the land.
All these charges put together were more than Puritan
Boston could take. Many of the colonists were loyal to the
Church of England; and, since they believed that the con-
tinued prosperity of their colony was dependent upon the
good will of the king, they dared not risk a drastic separation.
On leaving Boston, Roger Williams was invited to Salem
where he was asked to assist the Reverend Mr. Skelton as
minister of the church. Since Mr. Skelton was a separatist by
conviction, Williams assumed that the church also had sep-
arated from the Church of England. Later he discovered that
the contrary was true. So again trouble started.
Roger Williams refused to receive any new member into
the church who would not first renounce all his former con-
nections with the Church of England. He protested against
allowing the rulers of the Church to be also the sole rulers of
the colony. Finally, as opposition to William's "offensive
spirit" grew, he refused even to have communion with the
JOHN BUN YAN 161
Salem church. Instead he held meetings in his own home
where he continued to "infect" others with what his opponents
called "his extravagances." Many of the townspeople were
drawn to him, but most of the leaders of the Massachusetts
colony were hostile. Cotton Mather wrote that the whole
country was "like to be set on fire by the rapid motion of a
windmill in the head of one particular man." The sequel to
the continuing conflict was that Roger Williams was finally
brought to trial before a court in Newton, and a decree of
banishment was given, with a six weeks' delay in its execution
because of Williams' poor health.
The "Lone Journey"
During this period of respite, Roger Williams secretly
laid plans for starting an independent colony on the shores of
Narragansett Bay, and arranged a treaty for the purchase of
land from two Indian chiefs. Again and again leading men of
the Massachusetts Bay Colony urged him to change his mind,
but Williams "stood stiffly in his own course." Nor was he
willing to keep quiet or to refuse to let his friends gather in
his home. Soon the authorities in Boston became so fearful of
the contagion of his ideas that they decided it was dangerous
to wait to be rid of this burning "firebrand." They, therefore,
secretly plotted to arrest him and to put him forcibly on board
a ship sailing for England.
Being warned by his old friend, John Winthrop, Wil-
liams anticipated his arrest by fleeing. In one short afternoon,
he arranged for the carrying on of his business in Salem, and
for the temporary support of his wife and two small children.
In the bitter cold of a midwinter night, in a driving snow-
storm, he set out alone in the direction of Narragansett Bay.
In his extremity, Williams' reputation as a friend of the
Indians served him in good stead. Many a cold night he found
shelter in their simple though filthy wigwams. During the
winter months, he helped three quarreling sachems to resolve
their grievances and to smoke together the pipe of peace.
162 The Church Across the Street
In May of the following year, Roger Williams and five
like-minded companions paddled in canoes up an arm of Nar-
ragansett Bay and began to build a new settlement. In grati-
tude for the peaceful ending of his hazardous adventure, Wil-
liams named the place Providence.
So began the first real democracy on American soil where
the function of the civil authorities and the function of the
Church were clearly separated and no man was to be com-
pelled to worship in a way contrary to the dictates of his own
conscience. To the persecuted the colony became a happy
haven. To its enemies it seemed more like a dirty sink into
which Massachusetts and Connecticut let flow their discarded
refuse of "fanatics."
Roger Williams Changes His Own Convictions
In the new situation as time went on, Roger Williams'
own beliefs changed. He began, for example, to question the
validity of infant baptism. As he and his friends in Providence
had all of them been baptized as infants In the Church of
England, he concluded that none of them had been truly
baptized. Therefore, together they must all make a new start.
Following a precedent acted upon in Zurich, Switzer-
land, in 1525, twelve of the colonists gathered for a true bap-
tism. At Roger Williams' request, one of the company, Ezekiel
Holliman, repeated the New Testament formula, "I baptize
thee In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Ghost," and at the same time poured water from a pail over
Roger Williams. Then Williams, having been baptized, spoke
the sacred words and poured water over Holliman, and in turn
over each of the other ten candidates for baptism. Thus was
"gathered" a Baptist church, the first of its kind in America.
Some three or four months after participating in this
ceremony, Williams came to believe it had all been a mistake.
He had been baptized by an unbaptized person and conse-
quently his baptism had been of no value. The line of succes-
sion, from the apostles, of truly baptized persons had been
In 1635, Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts
colony for his radical ideas and sought shelter with the Narragan-
sett Indians in the neighboring colony of Rhode Island. The fol-
lowing spring he founded the settlement of Providence on land
purchased from the Indians. (The Bettmann Archive)
164 The Church Across the Street
broken. What could he and his friends do? Nothing. They
must wait for some new revelation authorizing the starting of
a new succession. Since while waiting for light he could not
call himself a Baptist, he separated from the church which he
had just helped to organize. Instead he called himself a
"Seeker," a name used by a small number of people in Eng-
land. By this they meant that they did not see the way clearly
and were seeking new light from heaven.
A Great Experiment in Tolerance
This experience made Roger Williams more tolerant of
those who differed from him. He was ready now to pray with
all Christians regardless of how or when baptized. His slogan
was "soul freedom." This did not mean, however, that he ap-
proved of all beliefs. What he did was to tolerate differing
beliefs. No one was driven from the colony because his religion
differed from that of the original settlers. Roger Williams de-
nounced what he thought to be error, but he granted to those
whom he opposed complete religious liberty in his colony. To
most of the Christians of that day, such an experiment in
colonization seemed positively dangerous. They believed that
the God of Truth would be offended by a government that
permitted the teaching of error within its territory. They ex-
pected the colony to be torn by civil war or to be punished by
some God-sent plague. But when the Rhode Island Colony
continued to prosper and grow, opposition to its fundamental
principles slowly began to weaken.
Although this significant experiment cannot justly be
called a Baptist experiment, the Baptists of America like to
remember that Roger Williams was a charter member of the
first American Baptist church.
Who Were the First Baptists?
The Baptists can point to no one pioneer in Europe,
England or America, and say, "This man was our spiritual
JOHN BUN YAN 1 65
father/ 7 Sometime during the first four centuries the practice
of infant baptism began, and soon those who protested against
it were persecuted. As early as A.D. 414, a council of bishops
meeting in Carthage decreed, "We will that whosoever denies
that little children, by baptism, are freed from perdition, and
eternally saved, be accursed." As late as 1636 in Massachusetts,
a law was passed saying "If any Christian shall openly condemn
the baptizing of infants, or shall purposely depart the
congregation at the administration of that ordinance, and
continuing obstinate therein, he shall be sentenced to be
Differences Among Baptists
In England there developed two kinds of Baptists, the
"Particular" and the "General." The "Particular" Baptists
preached that God was "Particular" in choosing only a minor-
ity of people for salvation. The "General" Baptists, on the
other hand, revised their Calvinist beliefs regarding the pre-
destination of some infants to perdition. They believed that
Christ came to save all men and that only those who refused
his grace when they reached the age of responsibility would
In both England and America, many of the "General"
Baptists later became Unitarians. Today there is little trace
of these two divisions among Baptists. But the traditional zeal
of Baptists for independence has led to divisions of many other
kinds; indeed there are in America today at least twenty-seven
varieties. Among them are Free-will Baptists, Primitive Bap-
tists, Seventh-Day Baptists (Saturday is their Sabbath), General
Six Principle Baptists, Duck River Baptists, and even a few
Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists.
Like other Church families, the Baptists have some close
relatives. Among these are the Mennonites and the Dunkards,
both of whom originated in what is now Germany, and are
descended from the Anabaptists. Both groups were persecuted.
Those who fled later to the Netherlands were called Men-
166 The Church Across the Street
nonltes because they rallied under the leadership of a Dutch-
man named Menno Simons. Later they fled to America, and in
response to a direct invitation from William Penn in 1683,
they settled in Pennsylvania.
The majority of Baptists throughout the world now
make Immersion a condition of membership in the Church.
Some of these churches practice what is called "close Com-
munion." None but the immersed may join with them in the
Lord's Supper. The number of Baptist churches that practice
"open Communion" is increasing. These invite all those
present, who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, to join with
them when the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is performed.
Baptism is usually performed by immersing the candi-
dates one by one in a baptismal tank near the pulpit. Many
churches, especially in the South, prefer to immerse their can-
didates in nearby rivers or lakes. The emotional excitement
which often accompanies these outdoor religious rites fre-
quently draws many spectators.
At the large Riverside Church in New York City, of
which Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick has been the noted senior
minister, one may be admitted to membership merely on con-
fession of faith, and the exact wording of this confession is not
definitely prescribed. The symbolic ceremony of immersion
will be performed if asked for, but it is not required for mem-
bership. Every year there is held the ceremony of the dedica-
tion of children. For this parents bring their babies to the
chancel where the minister in an act of prayer dedicates each
child in turn to the Christian life.
How the Baptists Govern Themselves
As is the case with the Congregationalists, each Baptist
church governs its own affairs. No higher officials or boards can
demand obedience from the churches, but they can and do
formulate programs for achieving common goals. Some re-
gional Baptist associations are interested in the strict main-
tenance of Baptist traditions and others are concerned with
JOHN BUN VAN 167
carrying on educational and missionary enterprises. Northern,
Southern and Negro Baptists in the United States are each
organized in national bodies called "Conventions/*
Their Numerical Strength
Today the Baptists have become the largest Protestant
group in the United States. If we include all kinds of Baptists,
there are some 21 million in the United States alone, and at
least half a million more in Canada. There are also some mil-
lions more in other countries, including, it is said, about 3
million in the Communist part of Europe. The largest Baptist
groups in the United States are the Southern Baptist Con-
vention (about 9 million), the National Baptist Convention,
U.S.A. (about 5y% million), the National Baptist Convention
of America (about 2i/ 2 million), and the American Baptist
Convention with about 1 1/ 2 million. The latter was formerly
known as the Northern Baptist Convention.
The Fundamentalist Controversy
No American denominational family in the twentieth
century has been more involved in theological controversy
than have the Baptists, unless it is the Presbyterians. Although
the Baptists have traditionally stood for freedom in faith and
government, they have also usually stood for a freedom that is
bounded by loyalty to the Scriptures as the Word of God.
Many conservative Baptists have been alarmed by the
progress of critical views concerning the Bible. They have
allied themselves with those of somewhat similar views among
the Presbyterians and in some other denominations in em-
phasizing certain doctrines or statements in the Bible which
had been set aside or "explained away/' as they said, by some
of the Biblical critics. These conservatives declare that belief in
the truth of all statements of Scripture is absolutely fundamen-
tal, not only to the well-being but even to the very existence
of true Christianity. For this reason such Christians have been
168 The Church Across the Street
called "Fundamentalists." They regard the following five
points as the minimum essentials of the true faith: the virgin
birth of Jesus, his physical resurrection, the inerrancy of the
Bible, the substltutionary atonement, and the truth of the
miracles recorded in the Bible.
Many of the Baptist Fundamentalists, as well as others,
are putting great stress on the second coming of Christ which
they believe will soon take place, but not before a series of
more and more dreadful catastrophes occur. They prophesy
that the human race will become worse and worse, in spite of
all human efforts to reform society. They assert that salvation
even for this world can come only through the supernatural
intervention of the divine Son of God from heaven. In brief,
these Fundamentalists are preaching the Old Story of Salva-
tion very much in the form which it had in the days of Augus-
tine. Since in this terrifying drama the Jewish people are pre-
sented as the chief of sinners In having killed the Christ, the
Son of God, anti-Semitic hatreds are being kept alive, often
unconsciously, by such preaching.
Perhaps the best-known leader of the Fundamentalists
was William Jennings Bryan, a Presbyterian, and three times
an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the United
States. He and his colleagues secured the trial and conviction
in 1925 of Mr. John T. Scopes, who taught science in a high
school in Dayton, Tennessee, a state which by law forbade the
teaching of evolution in its public schools.
Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, a Baptist liberal, led the
fight against the Fundamentalists. His famous sermon, "Shall
the Fundamentalists Win?", had a wide and significant in-
The Missionary Fervor of the Baptists
Most Baptists, like the Methodists, are evangelistic in
their emphasis, and have gained a great many members by
having revivals of religion. The modern Crusade for Christ
has been ardently supported by the Fundamentalists among
them. They have also been active In organizing a special
Crusade for Children.
In the past few years the Southern Baptists have been
engaged in an energetic and successful campaign to gain new
members and found new churches in the Northern and West-
ern states. The result is that they are now a national rather
than a Southern denomination.
The Baptists have also been among the more zealous mis-
sionary denominations. They have been fortunate in having
some great leaders to urge them forward. William Carey, a
minister in England, in 1 786 challenged a meeting of ministers
with this question "whether the command given the Apostles
to teach all nations was not obligatory on all succeeding gener-
ations to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying
promise was of equal extent." He was told, however, by one of
his Calvinistic colleagues to sit down. "You Ye an enthusiast.
When God pleases to convert the heathen, He'll do it without
consulting you or me." Notwithstanding this wet-blanketing
of William Carey's proposal, the Baptist churches of England
did organize a Missionary Society and sent William Carey and
his medical friend, Dr. John Thomas, to Bengal, India.
In America it was the great Adoniram Judson who first
started for Burma as a Congregational missionary. While on
the ocean on his way to India, Judson was converted to the
Baptist position. He appealed to the Baptist churches in
America to take him on as their missionary. As a result, a mis-
sionary society was organized which is now called the Ameri-
can Baptist Foreign Mission Society.
The ringing words from William Carey's farewell sermon
before sailing for Calcutta have been a noble motto for the
entire Protestant missionary enterprise. "Expect great things
from God; attempt great things for God."
Baptists have not been merely zealous missionaries, they
have also been intensely interested in work for the common
*70 The Church Across the Street
good, both here and abroad. Like the Presbyterians, Meth-
odists and some other churches, they have founded hospitals,
especially in the larger cities; one of the better-known Baptist
hospitals is in Boston. Many a youth has received his education
in a Baptist-related college or university. These are to be found
throughout the nation. Among them are Brown University in
Rhode Island, Baylor University in Texas, Colby College in
Maine and the University of Richmond in Virginia. Indeed,
we are all the richer for the spirftual legacy of John Bunyan
and Roger Williams.
g. George Fox
The Scriptures, what are they but the words of prophets, of Christ
and his apostles, uttered by men who enjoyed and possessed this
Light which they received from the Lord? What have you to do
with the words of the Scriptures, unless you come to the same
Spirit which gave them forth? You open the Bible, and say, "Christ
saith this," and the "apostles say that," but what do you say your-
selves? Art thou a child of the Light? Hast thou walked in the
Light? What thou sayest concerning God, does it come to thee
inwardly from Him?
"As Stiff as an Oak, as Clear as a BelT
In the quiet English village of Fenny Drayton lived an-
other worker's son, George Fox (just four years older than
John Bunyan), a man whose ideas were destined to be carried
to the four corners of the earth. His father, whom his neighbors
called Righteous Christer, was a weaver and a God-fearing
Puritan. His mother, though poor and uneducated, had the
blood of martyrs in her veins.
Like Bunyan, George early learned a trade in a neigh-
bor's shoe shop. He also served as a hired shepherd and sold
wool for his master in the neighboring villages. As a young
man, he made for himself not only his own leather boots but
leather breeches and jacket as well. In his later wanderings he
wore this suit so continuously that he was dubbed "the man in
In writing of his early youth, George *Fox said: "In my
172 The Church Across the Street
very young years I had a gravity and a stayedness in mind and
spirit not usual in children. . . . The Lord taught me to be
faithful in all things, and to act faithfully two ways, viz: in-
wardly to God, and outwardly to man: ... It was a common
saying among the people who knew me, If George says Verily,
there is no altering him/ "
Unlike Bunyan, George was not distressed about his own
sinful nature or distraught over the prospect of eternal punish-
ment. Instead, he was troubled about many things that seemed
to him wrong in the life of the community. In church he heard
people profess to be followers of Christ. On Sundays they
prayed long prayers, listened reverently to long sermons; but
on Mondays these same people in their shops would cheat
their customers. He saw Puritans strict in morals, who at the
same time went often to the village inn to drink beer and rum
until they were drunk and silly. He saw the minister and others
tip their hats and bow when the lord and lady of the castle
passed by, but when a butcher or baker came along, they would
keep their hats on with never the slightest bow. Beggars "some
in rags and some in tags/' came almost daily into the town
hoping for a mouthful of food or a place to lay their heads, but
only the barking dogs seemed to notice them. Did Christ come
to save only the rich? For whom was the Bible intended? Such
were the things that disturbed George Fox.
A Small Episode Becomes a Crisis
One day when George was a young man of nineteen, he
was walking about at a county fair, selling his master's wool,
when his cousin and a friend met him. "Come, George, let's
have a jug of beer together/' Glad for a little fun, George went
into the inn with them and each drank his glass. Then the
other two boys began asking for more, and each drank a second
glass and then a third. "Let's run a race/' said the cousin, "and
see which of us can drink the most. Then the one who drinks
the least will have to pay for us all/'
GEORGE FOX 173
For years George had known the two boys. They had
usually been models of behavior, especially at church. But now
he saw 7 that they w r ere trying to shame him into overdrinking.
Putting his hand in his pocket, he pulled out a groat enough
to pay for his own glass and laid It on the table. "If it be so,
I will leave you/'
That night George did not go to bed at all. Anxiously he
walked the floor. All his discontents seemed to pile themselves
one on another. He longed to talk with some one. He tried to
pray. Why did people say one thing in church and act so differ-
ently on the street? Wasn't God real? Did the ministers speak
the truth? What was the truth? How was it to be discovered?
Finally, it seemed to George that he heard God command
him to leave his home and his parents and all his companions
in the village and go forth as a pilgrim alone to other towns
to find the truth. The next morning, just as truly as any ex-
plorer ever set out to find the North Pole, George Fox set out
to find God. He walked from one town to another, staying a
few weeks in one place and then moving on to another village.
Wherever he went he watched people, and talked with them.
He talked with Puritans and dissenters and people who had
little thought of religion. Some he found were "tender" and
treated him kindly. But none seemed able to understand or
"speak to his condition."
After some months, conscience-stricken for leaving his
parents, he returned to his own Fenny Drayton. His neighbors
said his troubles would go If only he would settle down and
marry, but he was uninterested. Finally he found courage to
talk things over with Mr. Stephens, the minister in his own
church; but once more this honest seeker was disappointed.
Off he went again to other towns. He talked with ministers
wherever he could find them, but they all seemed as "empty
The hours George spent in the woods alone proved more
profitable to him. With a tree stump for a chair back, he would
sit and read his Bible. Now and then a new thought was
"opened" to him.
174 The Church Across the Street
"I saw that being bred In Oxford and Cambridge did not
qualify or fit a man to be a minister of Christ."
"It was opened to me that God, who made the w r orld, did
not dwell In temples made with hands . . . but In people's
hearts." The so-called holy churches seemed but places of idol
worship w r ith steeples pointing to a faraway God.
The Experience That Freed Him
Finally, after nearly three years spent in this solitary
search, "when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone,
so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell
what to do, then, oh then, I heard a voice which said, 'There
Is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition/ and
when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy/'
From this experience George Fox returned home "wrapt
In the love of God." For him life had begun. He was a new
man. And the thought came to him, "If God can speak to me,
so clearly and directly, He can speak to any man, woman, or
child. In every one there is a 'seed' of life waiting to grow. In
every one is *an inner light' which may at any time become a
greater light." From that time on George Fox believed he had
a mission to live for. His purpose was clear as a bell. He would
do all in his power to bring people off from "all the world's
fellowships, and prayings and singing, which stood in forms
without power . . . that their fellowship might be ... in the
Eternal Spirit of God . . . that they might know the pure re-
ligion, might visit the fatherless, the widows, and the strangers,
and keep themselves from the spots of the world."
With the ending of his terrific inner struggles, George
Fox's outward struggles began. In all sorts of places people
would gather to hear him talk. His denunciations of wrong-
doing often made people tremble. For this reason his followers
were first called Quakers. His ways of speaking were never
softened by tact or because of fear of offense. Whatever else
George Fox was or was not, he was determined to be honest
GEORGE FOX 175
The Taking of an Oath
During the seventeenth century whenever any one was
suspected of plotting against the king, he was brought before
a court and compelled to take an oath of allegiance, by kissing
the Bible and swearing his loyalty. This George Fox refused
to do, not because he had the slightest intention of plotting
against the king, but because it had been "opened" to him that
all swearing was wrong. He had found Jesus' own w r ords:
"Swear not at all, but let your speech be 'yea, yea; nay, nay';
for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."
Yet there was the law r . "If any person, not noble, and
above eighteen, shall refuse the oath of allegiance" he may be
sent into another country aw r ay from the king's protection; his
lands, houses and all his property may be confiscated; or he
may be imprisoned for as long a time as the king shall de-
One morning George Fox had been standing a long time
at the bar before the judge. Much had been said but nothing
had been proved against him. The learned man with the gray
wig and scarlet gown had the power to send his prisoner to jail
for life or even to the gallow r s. George Fox was ready for any-
thing; he felt that God's power was over all weakness and over
death. Finally, the judge said, "Give him the Book and let him
take the oath of allegiance."
So George Fox took the Bible; and turning the pages he
found Jesus' words about swearing. With the open Bible in his
hand, the prisoner lifted his sharp gray eyes and watched the
"Read the oath to the prisoner," said the judge, eager to be
through with his grim business.
When the clerk had read the solemn oath, the judge
turned to the prisoner and said: "Wilt thou or wilt thou not
take this oath?"
"Ye have given me a book here to kiss, and to swear on,
and this book which ye have given me says, 'Swear not at all ...
but let your speech be, yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is
1 This was called the penalty of Praemunire.
176 The Church Across the Street
more than these cometh of evil/ I do as the Book says, yet ye
would imprison me. How chance ye do not imprison the Book
for saying 'Swear not at all? How comes it that the Book is at
liberty amongst you, which bids me not to swear, and yet ye
imprison me for doing as the Book bids me?"
Such answering back was impudence. The clerk snatched
the Bible from the prisoner's hand, and the judge cried, "Nay,
but we will imprison thee/' and to prison George Fox was sent.
Honesty Every Day
In his everyday conversation George Fox went to the
minutest care to speak the truth. He began watching even his
casual remarks. He caught himself saying "Good morning" to
a stranger one day passing on the street. "Do I really wish him
a good morning?" he asked himself. "I must not say 'good
morning' unless I mean I want him to have a good morning.
It is better to be rude than to be dishonest."
He even began asking the meaning of words others never
thought of questioning. He found out, for example, that Sun-
day really meant the sun god's day; Monday meant the moon
god's day; Tuesday, the day of Tyr, the war god; Wednesday,
the day of Woden, or Odin, the father of gods and men; Thurs-
day, the day of Thor, the god of thunder.
"I can not call the days of the week by the names of gods
I do not believe in," he said. For this reason George Fox called
Sunday the First-day, and Monday the Second-day, and so on.
Even yet, three hundred years after George Fox's time, the
Quakers do not speak of Sunday Schools, but of First-day
This determination of George Fox to be honest was con-
tagious. Hundreds and thousands of those who gathered about
him in the towns and cities of England also began trying al-
ways to be honest. Some of these Quakers were tradesmen.
They had dry goods shops and grocery stores. They were
tailors, shoemakers and carpenters. Like George Fox, when
speaking to their customers, they would not put off their hats
GEORGE FOX 177
or bow. They refused to say, "Your humble servant/' The
customers, feeling slighted, grew shy of these queer people and
refused to go to their shops until many of the Quakers w r ere
able to earn scarcely enough to buy bread for their children.
As months passed, how r ever, the people came to see that
these Quakers never cheated them. If a Quaker promised to do
a thing, he did it. Slowly the reputation of the Quaker
merchants changed. A stranger coming into a town would ask,
"Where is there a Quaker grocer or tailor or shoemaker? I like
to trade with the Quakers because they are honest/' Ever since
George Fox's day, the Quakers, or Friends as they prefer to be
called, have had the reputation of being honest.
Should a Man Fight for a Good Cause?
Another matter about which George Fox was "stiff as an
oak" was his conviction about fighting. In the days of Charles I
and of Oliver Cromwell, it was customary for every man in
England to wear a sword in his belt. It was assumed that he
should be prepared at any moment to fight. Fighting for a good
cause was regarded as a Christian duty. The great Protector
was a notable soldier of the Lord. Had he not taken up arms
against the king for the good of the people? Had his armies not
gone into battle singing hymns and before fighting had they
not always prayed?
It was "opened" to George Fox, however, that he should
never carry a sword and never fight. Again Jesus' words were
final for him. "Resist not evil . . . but whosoever shall smite
thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. . . . Love
your enemies. . . . Do good to them that hate you."
His Practice of Nonresistance
One Sunday morning as the church bells were ringing
and "struck at his heart," as he said, God seemed to be calling
him to go to the church and speak. George Fox sat quietly until
the sermon was ended, then stepping to the platform, he
178 The Church Across the Street
motioned to show that he had something to say. This in itself
was not such an unusual thing to do. Men often spoke in this
way after the church service.
What he said, however, was different from what the min-
ister had just been saying. For a while the people listened
eagerly, but not for long. Soon a judge in the audience inter-
rupted, "He is not speaking according to the Bible. He is an
enemy of the country. He is plotting against the king and the
Church. Put him out."
The judge's words were like a match setting fire to a
haystack. In a moment the church was in a turmoiL Some
tumbled over the seats in their excitement.They struck George
Fox with their fists. They threw him on the floor. Some pulled
him by the collar; others by the hands. They dragged him away
to an open meadow a quarter of a mile from the town. A crowd
shouting and jeering ran after him. On their way they broke
off boughs from the trees and picked up sticks from the ground
and pulled branches from the prickly holly bushes. They
struck him on the arms and shoulders; they hit him on the
head until he was so weak that he fell in a heap on the wet
grass. As he lay there unable to move, George Fox asked him-
self, "What shall I do?" Then the words of Jesus came to his
mind, "Love your enemies. Pray for them that abuse you."
The crowds were watching. They saw his body move
slightly on the ground; they pushed closer and raised their
sticks ready to strike. They watched him struggle to his feet.
But what did they see? How dared he stand so straight and
look so fearlessly at them? Was he bewitching them, too? The
crowds stepped back, as if stunned when they saw his two
bloody arms stretched out and heard his voice clear as a bell.
"Strike again. Here are my arms. Here is my head. Here are
my cheeks. Strike them again. I will not strike you back/'
Only one man in the crowd had any daring left. With a
hard laugh, he pushed his way forward and with his stick
struck George Fox such a blow on his wrist that the arm fell
as if dead at his side. The crowd groaned. "His hand is crushed.
He will never be able to use it again!" One by one the people
walked away, for they had lost their courage.
GEORGE FOX 179
As for George Fox, he felt "the Lord's power spring
through him/' Instead of leaving the town as he had been
ordered to do, he walked back into the market place and made
his way about calmly among the very people who had been
flogging him so short a while before.
Soon he was holding as many meetings as ever, now in
this city and now in that. Everywhere he went he made a dis-
turbance. He even had the daring to walk up to the drawbridge
of a castle and preach to those on guard. Some soldiers were
throwing away their swords and refusing to fight. One ship's
commander had written to Cromwell saying that his very best
gunman had turned Quaker and now refused to fire a gun.
It is not strange that George Fox was imprisoned as a traitor.
Cromwell's Offer of Freedom
Later, messengers were sent to the prison. They ordered
the jailer to bring the prisoner forth into the market place
where a band of soldiers was gathered.
Without lifting his hat to salute the officer, the prisoner
in the leather breeches faced him. Paying no attention to the
insult, the officer spoke, "Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector
of all England, offers you your freedom if you will become
captain of his army." On hearing this the soldiers cheered.
"Stiff as an oak" the prisoner stood and in a voice "clear
as a bell" he answered: "All wars and all fighting come about
because men are selfish and jealous of each other and hateful.
Every soul is important in the eyes of God. I could never use
my sword to kill any man, not even my bitterest enemy. I am
a follower of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. He would have
us live such lives as will take away all occasions for war. I will
accept orders only from Him."
With his hands tied behind him and with the taunts of
the soldiers ringing in his ears, George Fox was led away once
more behind the prison walls, this time to share a room with
thirty criminals of the worst sort, with not a bed for any of
180 The Church Across the Street
Twice during the long winter, Cromwell sent messengers
with the same offer of freedom. Finally, the prisoner was
ordered to appear before one of the very highest officers of
Cromwell's army, who commanded Fox to become a soldier.
"You are commanding a dead man."
"You seem very much alive."
"I am dead to all war. Where there is envy and hate, all is
confusion. I will have none of it."
So once again this man of peace was sent to the small bare
prison to join the thirty thieves and murderers.
In the filthiest, most sickening prison dungeon, he would
sing and talk with his fellow sufferers about God's love and
power. On the hard stone bench or on the cold damp floor of
his prison cell, he would write letters to the judges pleading
for mercy, not merely for himself but for some thief beside
him. With swollen fingers he would pen words of cheer to
other Friends who like himself were sitting lonely behind
Free again, he would go at once to some market place or
to a fair or perhaps to a Quaker meetinghouse and there he
Three Great Principles
These then were three of the great convictions which
George Fox proclaimed: first, the endowment of every human
heart with an "inner light" or a "seed of divine life" which
makes possible direct relations with God; second, the primary
importance of honesty in all relations and the despising of all
shams; and third, the complete allegiance to the principle of
nonresistance, or to the belief that all wars and fighting are
Out of the first of these three principles grew George
Fox's democratic philosophy of life. It was because of his belief
in the "inner light" in every person that he also believed that
men everywhere were equal in the sight of God. In a day when
even some ministers said that women had no souls, George Fox
To spread the word of his great convictions, George Fox visited
America in 1671 3 journeying to various colonies scattered between
New England and North Carolina. Here he is shown preaching to
a group of settlers and Indians in Maryland. (The Bettmann Ar-
1 82 The Ch urch A cross the Street
encouraged women to be leaders of his societies. He included
the "heathen" also among those who had "the light of the
Spirit of God.' '
This fundamental respect of George Fox for every man
deeply influenced his great disciple, William Penn. Penn's
colony in America and the one established in Rhode Island
by Roger Williams were the only colonies that consistently
treated the Indians in the spirit of friendliness and justice.
William Penn's famous treaty with the Indians is one of the
few political events in the white man's relation to the Indians
of which the nation can be proud.
The Harvest Reaped Before His Death
In spite of years of imprisonment and persecution, George
Fox lived to see fifty thousand persons in Great Britain and
Ireland, who, to use his quaint expression, had "suffered con-
vincement." These people of like convictions were formed
into a working, growing body with equally well-organized
meetings in Holland, New England, New York, Pennsylvania,
Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas. 2 Before his death, Fox
knew also that more than twelve thousand of his followers in
England had been imprisoned because of their beliefs, and
that over three hundred of these imprisonments had ended
Unlettered and uncouth himself, Fox was honored as a
prophet not only by peasants but also by judges and scholars.
William Penn, the most famous of the disciples of Fox, was
the son of a famous admiral, a man of wealth, social standing
and education. Late in life the "man in the leather breeches"
even married the beautiful widowed lady of Swarthmore Hall,
Margaret Fell. For years this large and charming country estate
was the meetinghouse for Friends and a refuge for the perse-
2 Rufus M. Jones, ed., George Fox: An Autobiography (Philadelphia,
1903-1906), 1, 43.
3 Ernest E, Taylor, Cameos from the Life of George Fox (Headley
GEORGE FOX 183
cuted. Because of her activities, Margaret Fell herself was held
as a prisoner for four long years while her husband languished
for almost as long in another castle dungeon.
William Penn wrote this frank estimate of his master in
And though the side of his understanding which lay next to
the world, and especially the expression of it, might sound uncouth
and unfashionable to nice ears, his matter was nevertheless very
profound, and would not only bear to be often considered, but the
more it was so, the more weighty and instructive it appeared. And
as abruptly and brokenly as sometimes his sentences would fall
from him about divine things, it is well known they were often as
texts to many fairer declarations. And indeed it showed beyond
all contradiction that God sent him , . . he was an original, being
no man's copy/' 4
The Society of Friends
Persecution of Quakers in Massachusetts
If the way of the Quaker was hard in England, it was no
less so in America. Puritans desired freedom of conscience, but
only for those whose consciences were like their own. To the
New World followers of Calvin, the Bible was the infallible
guide. The Quaker belief in an "inner light" as a guide seemed
to the Puritan to be an outright denial of the all-sufficiency of
Quakers whose "concern" for spreading the gospel
brought them to the New World found New Englanders con-
cerned about keeping them out. Sea captains who brought
Quakers to America in their ships were required to return
them under penalty of heavy fines. The few Quakers who
4 Quoted in Thomas Hodgkin, George Fox (London: Methuen and Co.,
1896) , pp. 274-275.
184 The Church Across the Street
landed were promptly thrown Into prison. Anyone caught
importing Quaker books was liable to a $25 fine. In the eyes
of the law the Quakers were "that cursed sect of heretics," and
were liable to 4 'be whipt with rods so It exceed not fifteen
stripes" and banished.
A law passed by the Massachusetts House of Deputies in
1658 decreed the death penalty for these "fitt Instruments to
propogate the Kingdom of Sathan," and the sentence was
actually executed on some of these intrepid pioneers, includ-
ing the saintly Mary Dyer. After the death of Governor Endi-
cott in 1665, persecution relaxed, but even as late as 1775
there was a law still on the statute books forbidding Quakers
to hold meetings.
Whether because of the unrelenting persecution these
Quaker missionaries had to endure, or for other reasons, the
Quaker movement never prospered in New England. It was
quite the reverse in Pennsylvania. William Penn's charter for
his colony granted freedom for all religious sects. To this
haven in the New World large numbers of English Quakers
emigrated. It Is still a stronghold of the American Society of
Friends. There are also many Friends in Indiana, and other
parts of the Midwest.
Beliefs by Which Friends Are Known
All Friends still cherish belief in the "inner light," as the
ultimate authority, rather than the creedal statements or tradi-
tions of a church. This -central conviction has made Friends
staunch advocates of the democratic faith. No denomination
has been more consistent in its respect for personality than
they. Women have stood side by side with men In the leader-
ship of this society. No Christian group has been more per-
severing in its defense of outcast racial or social groups. With
a remarkable degree of unanimity, and in spite of persecution,
Friends have opposed all wars. They are renowned for their
thrift and honesty. Although substantial wealth has come to
no small number of Friends, yet for the most part they have
GEORGE FOX 185
maintained simplicity both in dress and in manner of living.
Many o them still retain a preference for "thee" in conversa-
tion, as a symbol of friendship and mutual respect. Among
themselves they refrain from all use of academic titles. Still
true to the spirit of George Fox and other early Quakers, they
are against all forms without the spirit to give them meaning.
They do not baptize or celebrate the Lord's Supper, and their
marriage ceremonies are beautifully simple.
Their First-day Meetings
Most Friends still speak of Sunday as the First-day of the
week, and their Sunday services are called First-day meetings.
These are usually without singing or instrumental music or
sermon. When some member, man or woman, of the Meeting
feels the prompting of the Spirit he speaks; otherwise nothing
is said. The group worships in silence. The helpfulness of
silence in group worship and fellowship is one of the greatest
lessons the Society of Friends has demonstrated. If there is
business to transact no formal vote is taken. The clerk simply
records as a "minute" what seems to be the consensus of the
group. When the meeting is over each person shakes hands
with the one sitting next to him and greets him before leaving
Their Places of Worship
Quaker places of worship are called meetinghouses rather
than churches. These, like the meeting held in them, are
usually plain and unadorned. There is no pulpit. Sometimes
a raised platform takes its place at one end of the room, where
a group of the leaders of the meeting sit. Plain wooden benches
for the other worshipers fill the rest of the room. Originally
the women sat on one side and the men on the other. In some
of the larger cities, present-day meetinghouses are beautiful
colonial structures, but without stained-glass windows or or-
Quakers worshiping in spirit at the Friends meetinghouse in Jor-
dans, Pennsylvania, where William Penn worshiped. From a paint-
ing by ]. Walter West. (Ewing Galloway)
GEORGE FOX 187
We can appreciate the feelings that younger Quakers
sometimes have had because of the lack of art in Friends' meet-
inghouses, and because so little seems to happen In the meet-
Ing. RIehenda Gurney, sister of the famous Elizabeth Fry, who
did so much to reform English prisons in the nineteenth cen-
tury, wrote In her journal, "I had a truly uncomfortable sort
of meeting. It was really bliss to hear the clock strike twelve . . .
Oh, how I long to get a broom and bang all the old Quakers
who do look so triumphant and disagreeable." There Is, how-
ever, a spirit of quiet reverence and worship in such meetings
which the sensitive and more mature person cannot forget.
The Simplicity of Organization
The Society of Friends for a long time had no paid
ministers. Their organization has been as simple as possible,
and thus as different as could be from that of most other de-
nominations. In some areas the meetings have salaried pastors
and their use is increasing, although these leaders are still in-
dependent of any higher ecclesiastical control. They are not
ordained, but they are often called "Reverend."
The local society is known as a "Monthly Meeting/' A
group of these Monthly Meetings is known as a "Quarterly
Meeting." There are now five "Yearly Meetings," with a total
membership of about 22,000; and three other groups. There
are also a "Five Years Meeting," a group known as the Re-
ligious Society of Friends (Conservative), and one called the
Religious Society of Friends (General Conference). All told,
Friends in the United States and Canada number rather more
than 125,000. The Five Years Meeting is much the largest of
the three groups.
Liberalism vs. Conservatism
With such a belief as that of an inner divine light in every
one, the members of the Society of Friends have always re-
188 The Church Across the Street
spected nonconformity. From the beginning they have strug-
gled valiantly against requiring assent to any doctrine as a test
of the reality of religious experience. Unfortunately, however,
even the Friends have been split into several separate groups
because of beliefs that once seemed irreconcilable.
In the early part of the nineteenth century, in the Society
in Jericho, Long Island, there appeared Elias Hicks, a dynamic
and original leader who preached ideas which, to those who
could not accept them, seemed destructive of the very gospel
itself and of true religion.
This Elias Hicks, without benefit of Biblical scholarship,
came to the conclusion that a clear distinction must be made
between "Jesus of Nazareth" and "Christ." To Hicks, "Jesus
was a model man who lived in Palestine at a definite date."
Hicks said, "This outward historical Jesus is not our Saviour."
His physical death on the cross cannot save anyone. There can
be "no other Saviour, but such as one who takes His residence
in the very center of the soul." It is "the portion of God"
within a man that saves him. This may be called the "Divine"
in man. Some call it "the indwelling Christ." This "Spirit of
Life, Light and Grace" was in the Jesus who lived in Palestine,
and it may also be in any man. It is an eternal principle. It is
only through the soul's obedience to this light or principle
that salvation can come. No other person's righteousness can
be substituted for one's own righteousness and the power to
achieve that righteousness is within and cannot come from
outside. The story of the Jesus who died on the cross and rose
again should be thought of as "entirely figurative/' a symbol
of the death of sin and the growth of righteousness within the
spirit of man. 5
Here was a Quaker of Quakers who carried the doctrine
of the "inner light" to its logical and full conclusion. His
thinking resulted in a division among Quakers into two
groups: the Orthodox and the Hicksite, or Liberal, groups.
Today, however, there are many liberal Quakers who prefer
5 Rufus Jones, Later Periods of Quakerism (New York: Macmillan, 1921) .
I, 444, 452, 455.
GEORGE FOX 189
not to be labeled as Hicksltes, since they regard the nineteenth-
century form of liberalism of Elias Hicks as unsatisfactory to a
liberal of the twentieth century.
Furthermore, they believe that true liberalism should
mean the breaking down of the dividing walls in the fellow-
ship. They are, therefore, xvorking for unity and are accenting
anew respect for originality and Individual freedom to follow
"the inner light."
Although the membership of the Society of Friends, both
in America and in England, is comparatively small, their in-
fluence far exceeds their proportionate numbers. Through the
work of the Friends Service Committee, Quakers have become
known far and wide. After both world wars this committee
performed an immense and exceedingly difficult work, feeding
and caring for prisoners, war orphans, refugees from annihila-
tion, and stricken populations in friendly and enemy countries
alike. In the postwar years their humanitarian work has been
continued throughout the world: relief and rehabilitation of
war refugees in west and central Europe; food, clothing and
medical care in Korea; aid to victims of the Hungarian up-
rising; help to homeless Arabs in the Gaza strip and Suez
Canal Zone; and famine relief in India and Pakistan.
Nor has the work of the Friends been confined to disaster
relief; they are even more interested in educating for peace.
They have organized seminars for international affairs, con-
ferences of diplomats, race relations committees and work
camps in which young people aid in constructive activities,
such as repairing the school in an Indian fishing village in
Alaska, and building a tuberculosis recovery home in Kenya.
In all this they have no thought of making more people Quak-
ers, but only in making a hard world a better place in which
to live. They well deserve the name of "Friends."
Many Quaker young men who, because of religious con-
190 The Church Across the Street
victions believed it wrong to fight, served without pay during
World War II in work camps under the civilian control of a
board of Friends, Brethren and Mennonites. Other young
men of similar views, who had no religious connections,
humanists who reject all beliefs in a supernatural God, served
with them. Some of these conscientious objectors were sent
to jail for their refusal to register for the draft. Most of these
pacifists, however, were allowed to do certain kinds of useful
work, and in some cases dangerous work that involved suffer-
ing and even death. Some served as nurses in hospitals for the
insane, while others volunteered as guinea pigs for experi-
ments in preventive medicine and starvation diets.
A number of preparatory schools under the leadership of
Friends have been noted for the quality of democracy they
teach. Friends have also established in the United States a few
colleges of the highest scholastic rank. Among these are Swarth-
more, Haverford and Bryn Mawr.
Of all the humanitarian work that the Quakers have car-
ried on, perhaps none was more desperately needed in the
early days than prison reform. Elizabeth Fry, an English-
woman of the early nineteenth century, was a pioneer in this
Friends have lived up to their name in many other ways.
Throughout their history as American colonists, they were
able to maintain consistently peaceful relations with the In-
dians. William Penn's treaty with the Indians and his sub-
sequent dealing with them belong with the few nobly great
events which Americans should never cease to celebrate.
Friends the Quakers also were to the Negro slaves. Al-
though a few Quakers fell into the social pattern of the times
and employed slaves for a while on their estates, when once
convinced of their error, they freed their slaves even before
Lincoln's Proclamation of Emancipation. Before the Civil
War by establishing the so-called "underground railroad,"
many Friends risked their own lives to help slaves reach the
north and freedom.
The "inner light" that illuminated the hearts of such
GEORGE FOX 1 9 1
men and women as George Fox, William Penn, Margaret Fell
and Elizabeth Fry has helped to light a very dark world, and it
continues to do so. Perhaps the Friends' solution to the con-
flicts which create so many of the world's problems, and from
which so many conflicts spring, may be the only practical one
zo. John Wesley
Give all you can. Hoard nothing. I defy all the men on the earth,
yes all the angels In heaven, to find any other way of extracting the
poison from riches.
A Revivalist Prevents a Revolution
Early one Sunday morning about the year 1730, a student
wit of Christ Church College, Oxford, looked out his window
and saw some half dozen other students walking into the
cathedral for Communion.
"There goes the Holy Club!" said he laughingly to his
visiting friend. "A new set of Methodists is sprung up here at
"Why call them such names?*' asked his companion.
"Because they think they must be singularly holy or be
damned, and because they regulate their holy deeds by clock
and bell. They imagine they can not be saved if they do not
spend every hour, nay every minute of their lives in the service
of God. They sleep but little. Rise early in the mornings. Meet
every evening from six to nine. Like moths they patiently
crawl through the Holy Book eating the words. Each Saturday
night they rehearse their sins one by one and weep for five
minutes, then thank God for granting them repentance, and
laugh immoderately as if they were mad."
"Methinks that to strain so hard after holiness is folly."
JOHN WESLEY 193
'I've not told you half. They are the jest of the whole
university. They fast two days a week like the Pharisees. Give
every penny they save to feed the poor or to buy books for them
to read. They try to reform notorious harlots and preach to
criminals in prison, and hire teachers for the children of house
"Let them have their 'Holy Club/ It's nothing to me,"
said the visitor in disgust. "If I have to work that hard to gain
heaven, let me have the flames of hell!"
Extreme and foolish as the activities of this small group
of students seemed to their fellow students, the world has never
forgotten this "Holy Club/' and, strange as it seems, the title
"Methodists," first given in derision to these college men, is
now the official name of the second largest Protestant denomin-
ational family in America.
The Two Brothers
In this small group of serious young men were two
brothers, John and Charles Wesley, sons of an Anglican minis-
ter in the small English village of Epworth. Charles, the
younger, was the organizer: a sociable, excitable and impracti-
cal young man "with more genius than grace," who loved to
write poetry and to sing. Disorderly in mind and habits, he
had been drifting gaily through life, with little thought of his
John, Charles's older brother by four years, was of an
opposite temperament, more like his competent and serious-
minded mother, Susanna Wesley. Even as a child John began
to guide his life by reason. Said his father one day, "Susanna,
I think our boy Jack would not attend to the most pressing
necessities of nature unless he could give a reason for it."
The strict discipline of an Anglican home had taken
effect on John. But Charles, like his poetical father, was always
bursting the bonds of routine. He had once petulantly pro-
tested to his brother, "Would you have me become a saint all
at once?" John, the leader of the "Holy Club," was methodical
to the core.
! 94 The Ch urch A cross the Street
The Epworth Home
Susanna Wesley was the mother of a family of nineteen
children. John was the fifteenth child and Charles the eight-
eenth. Although her husband's stipend was considered reason-
able, it required a Spartan manager to make ends meet. But
the cause of the Wesley's poverty lay deeper than the size of
the family, for the father, unfortunately, seemed to love books
more than his children, and was constantly getting himself
into debt in order to finance his literary productions. In fact,
for a period of several months he was actually jailed for his
indebtedness, which put the whole burden of the family's
finance upon his wife. Later, when Susanna was asked if they
ever actually lacked for bread, she replied: "I had so much
care to get it before it was eat, and to pay for it after, as has
often made it very unpleasant to me. And I think to have bread
on such terms is the next degree of wretchedness to having
none at all/*
(C A Brand Plucked from the Burning"
Nor was the Rev. Samuel Wesley really popular with his
parishioners particularly with the dissenters, those uncouth
doubters of official religion. Perhaps this unpopularity was the
cause of the crisis that came on the night of February 9, 1709,
when John was but six and Charles was a baby in arms. The
old thatched parsonage caught fire (or was set on fire, as some
rumors had it). John was asleep in a room on the second floor.
All the rest of the family had escaped. The father tried to run
up the stairs to rescue his son, but flames blocked his way. John
was awakened by the crackling of the fire. He opened a door
to run down stairs but was met by a hot blast. He slammed the
door shut, ran to the open window, saw the shouting crowds
below, cried for help, and by means of a human ladder he
climbed down to safety and to his mother's arms. "A brand
plucked from the burning!" she cried in her joy. From that
day John had a special place in his mother's heart. She de~
JOHN WESLEY 195
termlned, as she said, to be "more particularly careful of the
soul of this child." Often in later years she reminded John that
he must have been "plucked from the burning" for some great
Susanna Wesley, however, was a careful mother of all her
many children. When but a year old, each was taught to fear
the rod and to cry softly. If any child visited the kitchen for
something to eat between meals, he was "most certainly beat/'
"I insist," said Susanna, "in conquering the will of children
betimes, because this is the only strong and rational founda-
tion of a religious education, without which both precept and
example will be ineffectual, but when this is done then is a
child capable of being governed by the reason and piety of its
parents, till its own understanding come to maturity, and the
principles of religion have taken root in the mind."
On each child's fifth birthday, she planned what she
called an "Alphabet Party." This meant that the child spent
the day learning the letters of the alphabet. The next day he
began to spell words, with the use of the Book of Genesis as
his first reader and speller. The hours for instruction were
from nine to twelve, and from two to five. A tough schedule
for a five-year-old, judged by modern standards.
In spite of poverty, two sons went to Oxford University
and were enabled to enter the ministry of the Church of Eng-
land. While John served with a good salary as don at Lincoln
College at Oxford, his brother Charles was a student. It was
during this period that the two were members of the "Holy
Club," and John, the elder, became the leader.
But the methodical religion of the "Holy Club" was not
the power that brought to England the great religious awaken-
ing. The actual beginning of the Methodist Church was still
a long way off. To learn how these two loyal Anglican ministers
later started another dissenting church, we must trace the story
196 The Church Across the Street
The American Venture
On his father's death John was given the assignment of
taking his father's latest volume to Queen Caroline in the
hope that she might become interested in its promotion. Some-
thing more important, however, than the promotion of his
father's treatise on Job happened as a result of this journey.
While in London, John met an old friend of the family, James
Oglethorpe, a man of wealth, interested in organizing a royal
colony in America. Called Georgia in honor of the king, the
colony was to be a refuge for debtors and Protestants of all
kinds. Oglethorpe also had the ambition to spread the Chris-
tian faith among the Indians. The Wesley sons hesitated to
venture so far away from their widowed mother and wrote to
ask her advice. Her brave answer settled their minds. "Had I
twenty sons, I should rejoice that they were all so employed,
though I should never see them more/'
The Moravians and the Storm
It was what John Wesley learned from his fellow travel-
ers during the eight weeks' voyage across the Atlantic that
played the most important part in changing the course of his
life. Unused to the ocean and from childhood afraid of dying,
John found it difficult to be calm during storms. Among the
passengers were some Moravians from the Continent. One
evening, just as they were in the midst of singing Psalms, a
heavy storm broke. It split the mainsail in shreds, water
flooded the deck and began pouring down into the ship. Wes-
ley wrote in his diary, "I was vaulted over with the water in a
moment, and so stunned I scarce expected to lift my head till
the sea should give up her dead." Most of the passengers ran
below deck screaming in terror. But the Moravians calmly
continued to sing.
Afterwards Wesley asked one of them "Were you not
"I thank God, no."
"But were not your women and children afraid?"
Again the answer was "no/* Why should they be afraid
From that day on there lay buried in John Wesley's heart
a wistful longing for a surer faith, unsatisfied until he found
for himself the kind of peace of spirit that his Moravian
brethren had in the presence of death.
Failure of the Venture in Georgia
Such a change in John Wesley, however, did not come
for a long time. During his stay in Georgia, he remained the
faithful and formal minister of the church in Savannah.
Neither the Indians nor the colonists felt the need of this
religion of ritual and ceremony. Indeed, a certain Indian chief
said to Mr. Wesley one day, * 'Those are Christians in Freder-
ica; those are Christians in Savannah, Christians lie, Christians
steal, Christians beat men. Me no Christian."
In addition to this failure John Wesley became involved
in a love affair. He had been disciplined to fear the fires of
passion lest he might be led to love a woman more than God.
His holding back was misunderstood. Finally, because of his
lack of tact, a scandal was falsely publicized, and both Charles
and John Wesley took ship for England with the weight of
failure resting heavily upon them.
John poured out his unhappy soul in his journal: "I
went to America to convert the Indians, but O! who shall
convert me? who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil
heart of unbelief? I have a fair summer religion; I can talk
well, nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near; but let
death look me in the face and my spirit is troubled. . . . O who
will deliver me from this fear of death?"
No one could have been more in earnest than John Wes-
ley. But he felt himself working as a servant in fear of his
master, rather than as a happy child of God.
A Moravian Teaches His Don
Back in England, John Wesley resumed his duties as a
don at Oxford. Peter Bohler, a Moravian, came to be taught
198 The Church Across the Street
English, and John Wesley in turn was taught the faith of the
Moravians. Luther's gospel of "justification by faith" was
Bohler's meat and drink. On the soul's acceptance of the love
of God in Christ, all fear of eternal damnation was destroyed.
"This philosophy of yours must be purged away, Mr. Wesley/'
Bohler would say. "Accept the truth in simplicity."
But Wesley had to be clear about the reasonableness of
his faith. He began preaching again from a sense of duty, but
his gospel continued to be one of alarm rather than a call to
peace. He antagonized his hearers. One by one the pulpits of
London were closed to him. He began to question whether he
should not cease preaching entirely. "By no means," said Peter
^But what can I preach?"
"Preach faith till you have it, and then because you have
it you will preach faith."
The Great Day of Awakening
Wesley saw the promise, as he wrote in his diary, but it
seemed afar off. At last, when thirty-five years old, his great day
of release came. It was May 24, 1738, his spiritual birthday.
His brother Charles had found the great joy of conversion
only a few days before.
Here is the memorable extract from John Wesley's
"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in
Aldersgate Street where one was reading Luther's preface to
the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while
he was describing the change which God works in the heart
through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt
I could trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation; and an
assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even
mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
After the meeting, John walked over to his brother's
room to tell of the experience. Standing in the open door, he
hailed his brother with the rapturous words, "I believe!" In
their great joy they began to sing.
Wesley facing the mob at Wednesbury in England's "Black
Country" near the Midlands city of Birmingham. (The Bettmann
200 The Church Across the Street
For John Wesley, a transformation had taken place, like
that which came to St. Paul on the way to Damascus. What
days of fasting and prayer had never achieved, the love of God
fulfilled in a single moment. With a new life within himself,
he had a new enthusiasm that was contagious. The "brand
plucked from the burning" now began itself to burn with an
intense, but friendly and warming flame.
The Great Revival
For the next fifty-three years, John Wesley traveled the
length and breadth of Great Britain, preaching usually several
times a day, frequently out of doors, and to audiences that
often numbered thousands. He traveled on foot over unfre-
quented paths, making at times thirty miles a day. He went
more often on horseback, covering during his lifetime a
quarter of a million miles. He met angry mobs with confi-
dence, he endured exposure to wind and storm without com-
plaint, and he even faced tuberculosis and conquered.
By his side went his fascinating brother Charles, who
taught the people how to sing and love it. Up to that time
England had known no religious songs except the Psalms put
to stately and measured meters. John Wesley translated for
them the stirring songs that the Germans sang in Luther's
time. And Charles composed literally thousands of new songs
of his own songs that were vibrant with a passionate love of
God. Charles put the songs to lilting and rhythmic tunes, some
of which were borrowed from the folk ballads of the day and
sung to other words in dance halls and on the street.
Over and over again the hills echoed with the full tones
of the hearty singing of the crowds. Some of these new songs
are still loved and sung in our churches even after two
hundred years have passed. "Hark! the herald angels sing/'
"Love divine, all love excelling/* "Jesus, lover of my soul/'
The hymns of Charles Wesley were sung all over England.
... A thousand hearts were hungering for love, and here they
JOHN WESLEY 20 1
found what they longed for In full measure, pressed down and
running over. . . . The world looked on and wondered. It saw tears
washing the faces of the begrimed miners in the King's Wood,
Bristol . . . and marvelled. Before, such men had been the terror
of ail sedate citizens and had inarched Into Bristol murdering and
rioting and looting shops for food. Now r like so many lambs they
followed the sweet singer, Charles Wesley, to Holy Communion In
Temple Church. 1
John Wesley's Tutelage
John Wesley, however, did not come to this outdoor
preaching easily. In the famous "Holy Club" of Oxford had
been one George Whitefield, who as a boy had tapped the beer
in his widowed mother's barroom. Even earlier than John
Wesley, Whitefield found freedom in the love of God, and had
turned to preaching out of doors as easily as a duck turns to
water. Endowed with qualities money could not buy, being
tall and strong of frame, having a marvelous voice and a native
ability to make dramatic every thought, it is said, George
Whitefield could electrify a crowd of fifty thousand people.
Garrick, the most famous dramatic artist of his day, remarked
that Whitefield could say the word "Mesopotamia" in such a
way as to move an audience to tears.
George Whitefield, therefore, loved to preach in the open
fields. "There is no pulpit like a mound/' he said. "And no
sounding board like Heaven/* But John Wesley had been
long accustomed to the decorum of a service In a church. He
said, "I found it hard to reconcile myself to this strange way
of preaching in the fields . . . having been all my life (till very
lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order
that I should have thought the saving of souls a sin if it had
not been done in Church/'
But hearing his old friend Whitefield convinced Wesley
that he must change his habits. When he yielded and preached
1 G. Elsie Harrison, Son to Susanna (Nashville: Abingdon, 1938) , pp.
202 The Church Across the Street
out of doors, Wesley soon learned by experience that he could
preach to twice the number of people that he had reached
before in the churches. "What marvel the devil does not love
field preaching! Neither do I; I love the commodious room,
the soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. . . . Field preaching is a
cross to me. But I know no other way of preaching the Gospel
to every creature."
So John Wesley began preaching on village greens, in
churchyards, under trees, during the rain, standing on a chair,
a table, or even on his father's tombstone when locked out of
the church. As the years went by he trained others to preach
also men without an Oxford education, men on whom the
hands of bishops had never been laid to sanctify them for their
ministry. Although Wesley was against preaching at the hour
of the Sunday morning service, yet after the church service was
over, sometimes more people would gather outside to hear
these Methodists than came into the church.
The enthusiasm and the extreme emotionalism of these
meetings were sharply criticized by the clergy of the day.
Bishops wrote books denouncing the "Methodists." Plays were
given in the theatres in which the "Methodists" were held up
to ridicule. Professional clowns climbed trees and performed
their antics before the eyes of the listeners. Drummers
marched through the crowds, cow horns were blown in the
ears of the preachers. A miller opened the sluiceway of his dam
to drown out Mr. Wesley's voice as he preached. In the midst
of a meeting, the Wesleys and their assistants were carried in
wagons to the house of the justice of the peace. But even in
the face of all such opposition, the revival spread.
The Methodist Organization
Along with the tenderness and fire of his enthusiasm,
John Wesley was still an efficient minister. He knew that
merely preaching to crowds and stirring them up would prove
of little lasting worth. He made it a policy not to enter a city
or section of the country unless he and his preachers could stay
John Wesley preaching at his father's grave in the churchyard at
Epworth, on Sunday, June 4, 1735. Lithograph by Currier if Ives.
(The Bettmann Archive)
204 The Church Across the Street
long enough to organize small classes or societies, with leaders
who would instruct the people and watch over their conduct.
Together the class members were to examine their everyday
activities to see if they were living in ways worthy of their
Savior. Wesley, the revivalist, was still a practical man who
believed in discipline. He tells of finding a society whose
members were doing an "accursed thing" well-nigh all
bought and sold "uncustomed goods." Considering the low
state of morals at that time, such dealing in smuggled goods
was probably deemed quite proper by most people, but not
so by Wesley. He tells that after he had talked with them they
"severally promised to [live in this way] no more." It was not
always easy to be a Methodist.
A Preacher of Social Justice
Like Amos of old, Wesley was also a strong preacher of
justice and mercy. A few quotations from his sermons will
show the social temper of the man's mind. "The more you lay
out on your own apparel, the less you will have to clothe the
naked, to feed the hungry, to lodge the strangers, to relieve
those that are sick and in prison, and to lessen the numberless
afflictions to which we are exposed in this vale of tears . . .
therefore, every shilling that you needlessly spend on your
apparel is, in effect, stolen from God and the poor."
John Wesley was a prolific writer, having published during
his long lifetime several hundred books and pamphlets. These
achieved a wide circulation, and there is a project planned to
collect and republish all of them, a task which is expected to
take ten years and result in the production of thirty-five
volumes. Through his writing, Wesley earned thousands of
pounds, and it is said that he gave away in all at least the
equivalent of |125,000. He wrote in his journal that he never
spent more than twelve shillings (about four dollars in those
days) a week upon himself, although, of course, the purchasing
power of money in those days was greater than it is now.
JOHN WESLEY 205
During Wesley's lifetime England was engaging openly
in the most insidious forms of the slave trade. Wesley pub-
lished a treatise giving his Thoughts Upon Slavery. There was
no mincing of words. "I absolutely deny all slave-holding to be
consistent with any degree of even natural justice. . . Captains,
slave owners, kidnappers, murderers. . . . Thy hands, thy bed,
thy furniture, thy house, thy lands are at present stained with
blood. . . . Whether you are a Christian or not, show yourself
Only a w r eek before his death Wesley wrote a letter, his
last, to William Wilberforce, the great pioneer in the British
anti-slavery movement, saying, "Go on in the name of the
Lord and in the power of His might till even American slavery,
the vilest that ever saw the sun, shall vanish away before it."
Wesley writes in his journal of visiting the sick. "I found
some in their cells underground; others in their garrets, half
starved both with cold and hunger, added to weakness and
pain. But I found not one unemployed, who was able to crawl
about the room. So wickedly devilish is that common objec-
tion. 'They are poor only because they are idle/ "
Wesley was also militant against the liquor traffic. In his
day it is said that every sixth shop in London sold gin. Passers-
by might get drunk for a penny or dead drunk for a two-
His Practical Benevolent Projects
Wesley not only preached righteousness, but he also
organized societies to carry on many kinds of benevolent enter-
prises. In the days before hospitals, Wesley organized clinics
for the sick. The rise of the modern hospital may rightly be
attributed in part to the efforts of the Methodists to give nurs-
ing care. John Wesley even wrote a book on medicine. He
started schools for the education of poor children. He organ-
ized lending societies. He insisted that all members of the
Methodist societies, even though themselves poor, should
206 The Church Across the Street
justify their acceptance of God's grace by doing deeds of help-
The religious revival led by the Wesleys did not achieve
the thoroughgoing economic and social reformation the eight-
eenth century really needed, yet its results should not be dis-
counted as being of no value merely on the grounds that "the
pie-in~the-sky" assurance given the downtrodden masses dead-
ened their ambitions to struggle for their rights. In fact, the
evangelistic revival did the very opposite. It awakened the
ambition of all the neglected poor. It freed, at least in spirit,
the captives in the Castle of Giant Despair. It saved them from
madness and hate against their oppressors.
As a result England was spared the horrors of a revolu-
tion such as devastated France, and the slower but more
effective process of change without the use of armed forces was
made possible. "An ounce of love is worth more than a pound
of compassion/' said John Wesley.
The spirit of the first Methodists was contagious. In Wes-
ley's time one of the Anglican vicars, when preaching against
these Methodists, said: "There is sprung up amongst us a new
religion called Methodism; it is like the plague. They that
have it infect whole families." If but two or three Methodists
were in a town it was always possible to form a Society, and
some lay preacher was soon found who could come to them
and help to spread the gospel. John Wesley's societies were
like an army of lay missionaries, always recruiting others.
When Wesley died at the ripe age of eighty-eight, the Method-
ists in Great Britain numbered one hundred thousand strong.
Now after a century and a half, Methodists are found in most
countries of the world and their numbers have reached a grand
total of well over 12 million in the United States alone.
JOHN WESLEY 207
Separation from the Church of England
'John Wesley was great enough to be outrageously in-
consistent. He was devoted to the Church of England, and also
at the same time broke some of her most honored and sacred
Even to the day of his death, he remained a loyal minister
of the Church of England. The members of his societies might
belong to any sect they wished Presbyterian, Baptist, Quaker,
Moravian, or even to no church at all. Wesley meant that they
should partake of the Lord's Supper and worship on Sundays
in the churches of their own choosing. But when Anglican
clergy began to refuse the right of Communion to Methodists,
and when the doors of more and more churches began to be
closed to him and to his lay preachers, then a break finally
became inevitable. The formation of a separate Church, how-
ever, did not come until after Wesley's death,
The Pioneer Genius of the Methodists
Both the message and the organization of the Methodists
made them peculiarly fitted to follow the westward migration
in America that advanced so rapidly during the first few de-
cades of the nineteenth century. It required a religious body
that knew how to move quickly if churches were to be estab-
lished in these new settlements before the pioneers forgot all
The gospel the Methodist circuit riders preached was a
simple one of God's free love and man's free will to accept or
reject that love. The message fitted well the growing belief in
equality and democracy. It granted the pioneers the right to
believe that they could be masters of their own destinies.
The type of organization begun in England also lent it-
self to these same pioneering conditions. Lay preachers, with-
out formal education or special training, but filled with zeal
2 W. Bardsley Brash, Methodism (New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1928) ,
208 The Church Across the Street
and prepared to meet hardships, were quickly recruited. They
rode on horseback from settlement to settlement even to points
In America these circuit-riding preachers were ready to
preach "every day of the week in any sort of place, indoors or
out. They shared without complaint in the labor and depriva-
tions of the log-cabin settlements. If but two or three converts
were made, these w r ere gathered into a class and a leader ap-
pointed. They were enjoined to meet once a week "to confess
their faults one to another and to pray for one another/' In
the meantime the "circuit rider" rode off to another settle-
ment to gather another class of converts. Some of these
preachers were in charge of circuits so large that it took them
a month or more to go the rounds even though they preached
in a different place every day of the week except Monday.
Sometimes an especially gifted person was discovered in
the leader of a class. He was encouraged to develop his leader-
ship. Later on some qualified ordained minister would visit
the settlement and if this young leader proved worthy of the
task, he would be given a license first to exhort and later to
preach. Thus, although he continued to earn his own living as
before he would preach to his society on Sundays. Soon a log
meetinghouse would go up, and a church organization would
be started. In this way the Methodists enlisted hundreds of
local and lay preachers, who were given a little instruction
from time to time by their supervisors, yet whose main qualifi-
cations were their personal character and their zeal for the
The Methodist Organization in the United States
"John Wesley must be ranked with Ignatius Loyola and
William Booth as the greatest organizers in Christian history/' 3
Each Methodist class was looked after by a leader responsible
for seeing that members attended the weekly meeting and that
3 Paul Hutchinson, Men Who Made the Churches (Nashville: Cokesbury
Press, 1930) , p. 175.
JOHN WESLEY 209
In their daily lives they lived according to the rules prescribed
by Wesley. The classes in a given town united and formed a
society. Some of the societies had their own lay or ordained
preachers, but most of them were ministered to by itinerant
preachers who traveled and preached to a whole circuit of
In the United States the class meetings have now been
rather generally discarded. A district superintendent travels
about to all the churches in his district regularly and guides
the ministers and officers in making their policies. A group of
such districts is called an Annual Conference. Once a year
ministerial and lay delegates from all the churches within the
conference meet under the presidency of a bishop. At these
Annual Conferences, the ministers receive their appointments
from the bishop and his "cabinet" of district superintendents.
Above the district superintendents are the members of
the Council of Bishops. The bishops are elected for life by the
Jurisdictional Conferences which are set up to administer the
geographical areas of the church, though, except for such elec-
tions, these conferences have no other important duties. One
of the conferences (the so-called Central Jurisdictional Confer-
ence) consists of Negro churches not otherwise assigned. Once
in four years representatives, ministerial and lay, from all the
Conferences in the world-wide connections of the Methodist
Church meet for a month in what is called the General Con-
ference. This body has full authority to revise the Discipline
of the church or to rule on all matters of concern to the whole
church. In the four years interim between the meetings of the
General Conference, the Council of Bishops has large powers.
Individually each bishop has the final word regarding the
placing of every minister in the area under his jurisdiction.
The Methodist Discipline
During his lifetime John Wesley worked out in detail
many rules for the guidance of the conduct of ministers and
all members of the societies. These rules form the Methodist
210 The Church Across the Street
Discipline. Although Wesley's rules have been revised from
time to time, they are still a powerful factor in the control of
the life of Methodist churches. They resembled in certain
regards the rules for a monastic order. He was against all forms
of luxurious living. He decreed against theatergoing, dancing
and card playing. He disapproved of smoking and all "dram-
drinking." Although in some Methodist conferences, a minis-
ter may now be ordained without making a promise not to
smoke, the question will be put to him since a rule about
smoking by ministers is contained in the Discipline.
Until 1900, Methodist ministers were allowed to serve a
given parish for only a few years. Originally the term was one
year or even less, but now a bishop may appoint a pastor with-
out any time limit if his congregation ask for him and he
wishes to remain.
This closely knit organization has certain advantages. No
Methodist minister once ordained and admitted to confer-
ence need be without a "charge" unless for illness or after he
is retired for age or other cause. District superintendents know
all their ministers. Every pastor submits regular reports of his
work. If the standards set by the Discipline are not met, or if
the churches do not carry their allotted shares of the general
church expenses and benevolences, the pastor is held respon-
sible. Although the organization may lack much of being com-
pletely democratic, it has been highly effective in building up
a strong church.
The arbitrary Methodist system . . . was greatly tempered by
the fact that the early bishops moved about the country, from
north to south, from east to west; stayed in the rude cabins on the
frontier, preached at camp-meetings and received the same salary
as the humblest circuit rider. 4
Divisions in the Methodist Societies
Neither Methodists nor their leaders in America have
always been able to agree, and as a result there are now
4 Sweet, The Story of Religions in America (New York, 1930), pp.
JOHN WESLEY 211
Methodists of a variety of kinds. The most important split oc-
curred over the matter of slavery. Wesley had been unrelenting
in his condemnation of slavery, and in the United States the
Northern churches, for the most part, were loyal to his at-
titude. But in the South the problem became very complicated.
The climax came when one of the bishops in the South mar-
ried into a slaveholding family. The law of his state prohibited
emancipation. The Northern churches refused to accept him
as a bishop, so the Southern churches withdrew from the
Earlier another group began to fight for more democracy
in church government. They opposed the rule of bishops.
They also insisted on lay representation in the Annual and
General Conferences. These withdrew in 1830 and formed
the Methodist Protestant Church.
About a century later, in 1939, these three divisions
reunited in one church now called simply Methodist, a great
organization with a membership within the United States of
almost 10 million people. Despite this merger there are still a
number of independent Methodist bodies, some with names
that stir the imagination, such as* the Lumber River Annual
Conference of the Holiness Methodist Church. This is a very
small sect, with only seven churches and 360 members, but
others are of some size: the Wesleyan Methodist Church of
America and the Free Methodist Church of North America
have a membership of about 44,000 and 56,000, respectively;
they tend to be rural and rather strict.
Although many Negro churches and several Negro An-
nual Conferences belong in this united or Methodist church
proper, and their Negro bishops to the Council of Bishops, yet
a majority of Negro Methodist churches in America still main-
tain a separate denominational existence and have their own
organizations. The largest of these is the African Methodist
Episcopal Church, with almost 6,000 congregations and a
membership of well over a million, but the African Methodist
Episcopal Zion church is not very far behind with its almost
800,000 members. The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
also claims some 400,000; thus the total of Negro Methodists
exceeds 2,i/ 2 million.
212 The Church Across the Street
Benevolent and Missionary Enterprises
In Wesley's day the Methodists were not only interested
in saving people for a happy life throughout eternity, they
were also concerned with better living conditions in this pres-
ent vale of tears. Like their founder, Methodists still tend to
be practical in their good works. They have been leaders in
many benevolent enterprises. The starting of the Goodwill
Industries in the Morgan Memorial Methodist Church in
Boston in 1907 is a good example. A local project begun to
help the aged and handicapped and unemployable to find
work has grown into a national enterprise having headquarters
in many cities. Training is given in many trades and more
than 30,000 handicapped and disabled people are thus helped
annually. The total daily labor force now numbers more than
13,000 and the annual payroll almost $20 million.
Hospitals and homes for the aged and orphans have also
been established in many communities, at home and abroad.
There are more than 200 such institutions in the United States
alone, with some 35,000 full-time workers. Some Methodist
hospitals have a world-wide reputation, such as the New Eng-
land Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
The Methodists have also continued the tradition, started
by John Wesley, of book publishing. Their Methodist Publish-
ing House is the largest of the Protestant book concerns.
In the fight against the evils of the liquor traffic, the
Methodists were in the vanguard. The passing of the Eight-
eenth Amendment was due in no small measure to the prop
aganda and sacrifice of Methodist enthusiasts.
Since the Methodists have done so much of their work
in pioneer regions and among people of relatively small or
ordinary financial means, they early realized that if their young
men and women were to have an education, the church must
establish colleges where an education might be gained at small
expense. Consequently, the Methodist have planted their de-
nominational schools in almost every state of the Union. Some
of these pioneer colleges have since become large universities
of the highest rank, and are no longer wholly controlled by
JOHN WESLEY 213
the Methodists. Northwestern, Vanderbilt, University of
Southern California, Ohio Wesleyan, Wesleyan in Connecti-
cut, Duke University, Syracuse University, De Pauw in In-
diana and Boston University speak for themselves.
The foreign missionary work of the Methodists has
been outstanding in scope and In outlay of money. Methodist
churches, affiliated with American Methodism, are scattered
widely over the world in many mission lands. Membership in
such churches outside the United States is probably over a half
Although there have been wealthy people in Methodist
churches as well as elsewhere, the example of John Wesley is al-
ways with them. Having earned thousands of pounds through
his writings, he might well have died a wealthy man. Instead
he died poor, not leaving after debts were paid, even as much
as ten pounds. Thus he extracted ''the poison from riches" and
turned them into a powerful means for building the Kingdom
of God on earth.
i/. Ho sea Ballon
If the servants of Christ here on earth desire the increase of holi-
ness, and the decrease of sin, which would be most agreeable to
such a desire: the belief that the greatest part of mankind will grow
more and more sinful to all eternity, or, to believe that sin will
continually decrease and righteousness increase, until the former
is wholly destroyed, and the latter becomes universal?
HOSEA BALLOU, Treatise
on the Atonement
God Does Not Punish Eternally
A Mother's Distress
On a September day in 1770, in a small village on the
New Jersey coast a little south of Sandy Hook, Mr. John Mur-
ray and his fisherman host knocked at the door of a farmer's
home. On being welcomed, they saw a woman sitting in a
rocking chair, weeping over a babe asleep in her arms. "Sup-
posing that her tears flowed from some domestic distress or
pecuniary embarrassment," Mr. Murray endeavored to con-
sole her by observing that "the world was very wide, and that
God was an all-sufficient Father/'
"Alas! sir," she replied, "I never, in the whole course of
my life, experienced a moment's anxiety from the dread of my
children or myself suffering the want of either food or rai-
ment. No, sir, my fears are that they will be sufferers, through
the wasteless ages of eternity, in that state of torment from
Portrait of John Murray. (Umversalist Historical Library)
216 The Church Across the Street
whence there Is no reprieve: and that they will continually
execrate their parents as the wretched instruments of bringing
them into being. I have eight children, sir; and can I be so
arrogant as to believe that all these children are elected to
"But, my dear lady, you have reason to believe that they
will all be saved, whether they be elected or not, because Christ
Jesus is the Savior of all men."
This, however, did not satisfy the mother. Had not God
elected some to eternal happiness and others to eternal dam-
nation? Mr. Murray picked up the Bible on her table and
expounded to her from the Scripture that God's love included
all, that by the death of Jesus all the world had been saved.
There was no one who would be eternally damned in hell. All
who are born are God's children and he would not desert them.
Again and again the mother took the Bible up into her
own hands and read with her own eyes the words that Mr.
Murray quoted. Slowly the strained lines on her face relaxed.
At last she burst into tears of joy, and hugged her babe to her
breast. "Blessed, blessed God, they are not mine; they are
thine, O Almighty Father; and thou wilt not be regardless of
thine own!" 1
Unthinkable as such an episode seems to most of us today,
it is a startling reminder of how seriously Calvin's doctrine of
election had taken hold of the consciousness of Christian
people in the eighteenth century.
John Murray in England
Only a short while before this episode John Murray had
come ashore from a sloop caught on a sandbar another ref-
ugee from religious prejudice and ostracism. Naturally a viva-
cious and temperamental child, he had been reared in a godly
English home by a strict and pious disciplinarian of the Calvin-
istic faith. John Murray had struggled with serious persistence
to- keep his religion alive; yet he shifted from time to time
1 The Life of Rev. John Murray . . . Written by Himself (Boston, 1870) ,
between a life of "mirth and frolic" to a life of exacting de-
votions and churchgoing. Although his father never allowed
him the opportunity for an education, John had access to an
unusual library. He became a popular leader in the Methodist
classes promoted by John Wesley.
It was not until John Murray was a grown man and
married, however, that he discovered a religious faith that
relaxed his spirit from morbid fears. It was a Rev. Mr. Relly
who freed him by convincing him that the doctrine of eternal
damnation for an elected number of sinners was not based on
the teachings of Christ. This free-lance minister had been
ostracized by the clergy in the other churches and his character
had been falsely maligned. Yet when Mr. and Mrs. Murray
finally screwed up their courage to go to hear the man for
themselves, they went away feeling that they had listened to
"the first consistent sermon they had ever heard."
But to deny the doctrine of eternal damnation for all
unbelievers was to destroy the whole plan of salvation, so their
Presbyterian friends all said. Without the fear of hell, there
would be no motive for living a good life. The prejudice and
slander to which Mr. Murray was subjected is difficult today
to understand. Almost every friend he had disowned him. To
add to his loneliness his first child died, and his wife became
ill with a lingering but fatal disease.
Discouraged and isolated from his friends, he finally de-
cided to flee to America, hoping to find here a quiet place
where he might live a simple life and might never again teach
or preach or become a public figure who would be hurt by
The Unexpected Summons to Preach
A strange reversal of his expectations came about without
his wishing, for John Murray could not hide his light under a
bushel. Shipwrecked in a sloop off the coast of New Jersey,
with a small crew of men and without provisions, he went
ashore in search of fish. Instead he found a friend and a church
waiting for his ministry.
218 The Church Across the Street
Mr. Potter, his host, was an illiterate though successful
fisherman who lived alone. "Come/' said he, "I've been ex-
pecting you for a long time."
Mr. Murray was puzzled. How could he have been ex-
Mr. Potter had built a small church near his house.
Whenever he could find a minister to preach, the church was
opened and all the people living in the neighborhood around
were summoned. But Mr. Potter had not been satisfied with
the preachers who had come. "The preachers we have heard
are perpetually contradicting themselves . . ./' he explained,
"When the house was finished I received applications from
the Baptists and I told them, if they could make it appear that
God Almighty was a Baptist, the building should be theirs at
once. The Quakers and the Presbyterians also tried. No, said
I. As I firmly believe that all mankind are equally dear to
Almighty God, they shall all be equally welcome to preach in
this house which I have built. My neighbors assured me that
I never should see a preacher whose sentiments corresponded
with my own. My constant reply has been, 'He will by and by
make his appearance. The moment I beheld your vessel on
shore, it seemed as if a voice sounded in my ears, 'There, Pot-
ter, in that vessel is the preacher you have been so long ex-
Mr. Murray was terrified. Like Jonah he had tried to run
away, but God had followed him. John Murray had to obey
the voice. Two days afterwards he preached a Universalist
gospel to nearly seven hundred curious people, who crowded
into the little church. So once again John Murray became a
public servant who had to stand out in front of the rank and
file and take the slanderous darts from those who opposed
The Growth of a New Movement
News spread of the young and vivacious minister from
England. Invitations came for him to preach in New York
2 Ibid., pp. 196-212.
HOSEA BALLOU 219
City, In Philadelphia, in New Jersey and later on in New Eng-
land. A church in Gloucester asked him to be its pastor and
by a very simple ceremony he was ordained as a minister of the
gospel. Later on he was called to be minister of a church in
Wherever he went, John Murray made both friends and
enemies. His followers, too, found themselves the butt of
ridicule and the objects of scurrilous accusations. In Boston
the crowds became most vociferous in their hostility. One
evening the audience found themselves deluged with buckets
of water thrown in upon them, as well as with rotten eggs. On
another occasion, Mr. Murray ascended the pulpit only to
find it had been sprinkled with foul smelling asafoetida, and
later stones were thrown at him through the windows. One
large stone which came near to hitting Mr. Murray, he picked
up and waved in view of all his audience saying: "This argu-
ment is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational, nor con-
Although John Murray was the most famous pioneer of
Universalism in America, other preachers before him in
America had been boldly denouncing the Calvinist doctrine
of eternal misery in hell. There were others also who secretly
sympathized with the more hopeful belief in universal salva-
tion, yet because of the scornful popular prejudice against the
idea they held their peace.
Like other independent thinkers before him, John Mur-
ray had no desire to organize a separate denomination, but
those who followed his leadership were obliged by their op
ponents to establish themselves in separate churches. Fifteen
years after he landed on the New Jersey shore a national
convention of Universalists was held in Oxford, Massachusetts,
A Greater Than Murray Appeared
Attending the national Universalist Convention in 1791
was a twenty-year-old young man who had just been excom-
municated from the Baptist Church, of which his father had
220 The Church Across the Street
long been the pastor. Ten years before in a small village in
New Hampshire, Hosea Ballou had first heard this new doc-
trine of universal salvation from a preacher in a neighboring
town. Having been thoroughly trained in Calvinistic teaching,
the boy was as antagonistic toward this denial of the faith as
were all the rest of the villagers. It seemed a horrifying and
dangerous heresy. It was said that those who accepted the
teaching would no longer have any motive for being good.
They would lie, cheat, indulge in dissipation, wallow in sin
of every kind, not hesitating even to take the lives of their
neighbors or to commit suicide. These were the very words
Hosea Ballou heard over and over. He began to feel uneasy.
To be condemned to eternal suffering through no fault of
one's own seemed unjust. He found himself wishing that all
people might attain happiness. Could it be a sin for him to
wish for this? Did not God also really care for all his creatures?
Hosea Ballou was not one to rush after a new idea, nor
was he one who would close his mind and refuse to think his
way through a question when once it was raised in his mind.
There were, however, few with whom the boy could talk. He
found no book on the subject. Ballou's one guide was the
Bible. He began studying this with great diligence, having
this one question continually on his mind. It was not until he
was twenty that he openly made his decision, and the result
was that his Church excommunicated him.
As this young man sat among the ministers in convention
in Oxford, Massachusetts, he was dreaming wistfully of the
day when he, too, might become a minister. John Murray and
the other older men encouraged Hosea Ballou; but little did
they dream that by the time he was their age, this young New
Hampshire farmer would be carrying the Universalist banner
to thousands of people all over New England, New York and
as far west as Ohio.
Hosea Ballou the Architect of Universalism
John Murray was like an enthusiastic scout who discovers
a thrilling site for a new building. Hosea Ballou was the
.4 rar^ portrait of Hosea Ballon at the age of thirty-six. (Univer-
salist Historical Library)
222 The Church Across the Street
architect whose genius created plans for a noble structure on
sound foundations. With scarcely more than a year's regular
schooling in his life, Hosea Ballou learned for himself how to
use his brilliant logical mind. He could look squarely at an
old idea and think originally on it until he had created a better
one to take its place. He had the ability also to state his reasons
in clear, striking terms so that people could understand and
were challenged. No Unitarian of his day denounced the doc-
trine of the Trinity with more effectiveness than did Ballou;
and he did it twenty years before Channing preached his
famous Baltimore sermon. It was a sore disappointment to
Ballou that so few Unitarians of that time could break loose
also from the old belief in everlasting punishment for pan of
While John Murray had preached a cheerful but naive
gospel of universal salvation, Hosea Ballou thought through
the meaning of punishment and salvation. His psychological
insight into the therapeutic value of love in contrast to con-
demnation was far in advance of his generation. "God saves
men to purify them/' he said one day to a woman about to
mop her floor. "That's what salvation is designed for. God
does not require men to be pure in order that he may save
Hosea Ballou was not dogmatic in denying all punish-
ment in the life after death, but he asserted that whatever there
was, it would be similar in kind and degree to the punishment
that results from sin in this present life. He said:
Men are now as happy as they are righteous, and they are as
miserable as they are sinful; therefore, to my understanding, if all
men are to be rewarded in the future world according to their
works in this, they will be just as happy and just as miserable as
they are in this world. 4
He decried also a superficial thought of salvation, saying:
"No man understandingly wants salvation any further than
he wants holiness/' Ballou's own sympathies were too wide for
4 Thomas Whittemore, Life of Rev. Hosea Ballou (Boston, 1854) , II, 213.
HOSEA BALLOU 223
him to accept with satisfaction the thought of the ultimate
division of humanity Into two separate groups, one in bliss and
the other In agony. "I do not conceive/' he said, "that part of
humanity can be made perfectly happy while the rest Is In
Hosea Ballou was a strong preacher. He traveled widely
over the eastern United States organizing Universal 1st
churches. Many of his sermons were printed and given a wide
circulation. His most noted book w r as a Treatise on the Atone-
The Univer sails t Magazine
For a number of years, Hosea Ballou was editor of the
first Universalist Magazine. In the initial issue he wrote that
the object of the paper was to promote "the growth of truth,
religion and morality/' "Whatever correspondents might con-
tribute to aid in these objects would be gratefully received;
nor would the editor exclude articles advocating doctrines op-
posite to his own, if written in a proper spirit, provided he
should retain the liberty of pointing out any errors that seemed
to be of a dangerous tendency/' He answered the objections
that some might raise to having the paper open to writers of all
sects by pointing out that this very feature would make the
magazine universalist. Consequently, the paper became for
many years a kind of forum in which the lively theological
issues of the day were discussed.
The glory of both John Murray and Hosea Ballou is that
they helped to tear down a high and long-standing wall that
had confined men to a partial view of humanity and of human-
ity's God. In so doing they made possible a broadening of the
horizons of religious thought. These men were reaching after
a universal instead of a partial God. Theirs was a God for all
rather than a God who chose to show his love only to the elect,
one whose love shines both "on the evil and the good," both
in this world and on in the world to come. Such a broadening
insight prepared the way for the possible development of a
224 The Church Across the Street
"religion for greatness/' 5 With this ennobling heritage, mod-
ern Universalists may lead the way toward even richer insights,
toward the achieving of a religion universal in more aspects
than the founders of the church could imagine. Our "one
world" sorely needs such leaders.
Their Bond of Union and the Liberty Clause
At the meeting of the Universal 1st General Convention
(since called the Universalist Church of America) held in
Washington in 1935, the following Bond of Fellowship and
Statement of Faith was voted into the constitution of the
The bond of fellowship in this Convention shall be a com-
mon purpose to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it and to
cooperate in establishing the Kingdom for which he lived and
To that end we avow our faith in God as Eternal and All-
Conquering Love, in the spiritual leadership of Jesus, in the su-
preme worth of every human personality, in the authority of truth
known or to be known, and in the power of men of good will and
sacrificial spirit to overcome evil and progressively establish the
kingdom of God. Neither this nor any other statement shall be
imposed as a creedal test, provided that the faith thus indicated be
The final sentence in this avowal is called "the Liberty
Clause" and the Universalists lay great emphasis upon it. They
explain that it is merely an agreement in "the essential spirit"
of the statement that concerns them. All ministers and all
5 Clarence R. Skinner, A Religion for Greatness (Murray Press, 1945) .
6 Frederic W. Perkins, Beliefs Commonly Held Among Us (Boston, 1945) .
HOSEA BALLOU 225
members of the church should feel free "to state the faith in
the manner that shall seem to them right."
John Murray and Hosea Ballou would have stated their
faith in different terms, yet they would, if they knew, feel the
bond of union in the universality of their outlooks and in their
common spirit of confidence in humanity.
"Not a Creed but a Hymn of Fellowship"
Most creeds have been formulated to serve as tests by
means of which heretics would be kept outside the Church.
This Universalist avowal of a common faith was put into words
in order "to rally believers rather than to repel heretics." "It
is not a password but a hymn of fellowship, and its rallying
power is not so much in the words of the song as in the spirit
it sings/' 7 The door is as wide open as faith in "the authority
of truth, known or to be known"; and the call is to a united
effort to establish the kingdom of God in this present world.
The Numbers of Universalists
Like the Unitarians, the Universalists (prior to merger
of the two denominations) comprised a relatively small group.
They had about 387 churches and 70,000 members in 1960.
The influence of a Church, however, should not be measured
in numbers, but rather by the quality and significance of the
contribution it makes. Great philanthropists have been within
the Universalist fellowship. Among these have been Thomas
Mott Osborne, pioneer in prison reform, and Clara Barton,
founder of the American Red Cross. Owen D. Young, a lawyer
and industrial executive, was widely known for his services to
education and government, and for his gifts to colleges and to
his denomination. The Universalist women have long main-
tained a summer camp for diabetic children at Clara Barton's
226 The Church Across the Street
birthplace In North Oxford, Massachusetts. From the begin-
ning, the Universalists were vigorous In their opposition to
Unlversallst Influence has also been exerted through
their colleges, of which they now have two, St. Lawrence Uni-
versity in Canton, New York, and Tufts University at Med-
American Unitarians and Universalists Become
Despite traditional differences in emphasis, the Uni-
tarians tending to stress the intellectual approach and appeal
to reason in support of religious truths, while the Universalists
have insisted on the importance of "love" as the heart of re-
ligion, the two groups have long realized that they had much
in common. There has been agitation in each of the denomina-
tions for merger with the other for many years. Indeed, the
first overtures for union date to the early nineteenth century.
But for a long time nothing came of such movements, and
it was not until 1959, when both groups held simultaneous
meetings in Syracuse, New York, that each voted approval of
union with the other.
This was confirmed by a large majority of the individual
churches the following year, and the merger finally became a
fact in May 1960, when both denominations held their last
meetings In Boston as separate denominations, and In May
1961, when the organizational meeting of the new denomina-
tion was held in the same city. The new denomination is
known as the Unitarian Universalist Association and, like its
parent organizations, maintains headquarters in Boston. It
consists of just over 800 churches in the United States and
Canada, together with several hundred Fellowships. The latter
are lay societies destined to become churches when they are
large enough for self-support. The combined membership of
this Association Is about 180,000 adults.
Although organic union has only just been realized, co-
HOSEA BALLOU 227
operation of the two churches has been going on for many
years. Both have long openly avowed their desire to be
churches of a free spirit. Since the National Council of
Churches of Christ in America and the World Council of
Churches have both thought it their duty to make the basis
of membership in their organizations a creedal statement,
Unitarians and Universalists have been excluded from partici-
pation as members.
The Council of Liberal Churches (Universalist-Uni-
tarian), Inc., was created in 1954 in the hope that many liberal,
non-creedal groups might join in a larger common effort. This
did not happen, and the Council of Liberal Churches was dis-
solved in 1961.
The preparation and use of a hymnbook, Hymns of the
Spirit, helped develop a common bond between the two
denominations. In the judgment of some, this was the most
original collection of hymns made in the United States during
the last century. Hymns with outworn theology have been
replaced by those expressive of modern man's religious feeling.
The two churches have also cooperated in the prepara-
tion and use of new books for their church schools. Indeed,
under the Council of Liberal Churches, the educational de-
partments of the two denominations had been organically
united since 1955. The educational philosophy has been op-
posed to indoctrination, and has worked toward the develop-
ment of independent and creative religious living and think-
ing. The young people of the two denominations have been
completely merged in what is now called Liberal Religious
Youth since 1953.
There are, of course, many individual churches and in-
dividual Christians of other denominations who are also think-
ing and acting with as much liberty and vitality as members of
the new denomination. Yet the tendency seems to be toward
greater orthodoxy and religious rigidity. Unitarians and Uni-
versalists value religious freedom, and are convinced that only
through it can man's greatest potential be achieved.
12. Thomas Campbell 1763-1854
Alexander Campbell 1788- 1866
Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are
silent, we are silent.
Nothing is essential to the conversion of the world but the union
and cooperation of Christians.
Nothing is essential to the union of Christians but the Apostles'
teaching or testimony.
A Family Matter
The road was dusty indeed, it was little more than a
trail. But it did not discourage Thomas Campbell who was
riding along it in a wagon one fall day in 1809. He was on his
way from his parish in western Pennsylvania to meet his
family, who had just arrived from Scotland. Campbell had
traveled many miles on roads far worse than this, .and besides,
he had many other things to think about. It had been two
years since he had left his home and the academy where he had
taught in Rich Hill, near Armagh, Ireland, for the great New
World across the sea. Now he was on his way to meet his wife
and children. They had disembarked in New York, had taken
the stage coach to Philadelphia, and then had set out by wagon
on their own. Anywhere now they might meet.
THOMAS AND ALEXANDER CAMPBELL 229
So the horse continued her trot, and Campbell continued
his thinking. Mails were slow, and only reached the little town
where he had been living after long delays. What would his
eldest son Alexander be like? And the younger children? Two
years may make a lot of difference when children are growing
Suddenly Campbell was all attention. He thought he
heard voices in the distance, but there was still a hill ahead
and nothing could be seen. No doubt it was just another party
of travelers like himself, but to pass anyone at all on that lonely
road was an event. So he whipped up his horse, and soon he
saw, over the brow of the hill, a wagon rather heavily loaded.
There was baggage in it, and several children. Walking beside
the vehicle were a young man and an older woman. Now the
voices could be distinctly heard, and they had a familiar sound.
Almost at the same time he heard a shout: "It's Father!
It's Father!" And the children came running up to greet him,
while the young man and his mother jumped into the wagon
and made what speed they could in the heavily loaded vehicle.
After the first enthusiastic welcome was over, the children dis-
tributed themselves in the two wagons and the young man
took his seat beside his father.
Shipwreck, an Ocean Voyage and Decision
There was much to talk about. Young Campbell had
been still a schoolboy when his father bade the family farewell
in 1 807. Now he was a young man, almost ready to begin train-
ing for a lifework.
But first there was the just completed voyage for the boy
to tell his father about. It had been exciting, as all such trips
across the Atlantic were in the days of sailing ships. Yet it had
been nothing like the first attempt, a year earlier, of the Camp-
230 The Church Across the Street
bell family to get across that great ocean. For then they were
shipwrecked just off the coast of west Scotland, and for a time
it looked as if the ship might break up before rescue arrived.
God had seemed very near in that trying time, and a life spent
doing his work had come to seem the most rewarding a young
man could choose. To help bring together the separated and
often bitterly competing churches of Christendom had come
to be his consuming ambition. His father's reminder that it
would mean hard and unremunerative work only met with the
answer: "Paul made his living as a tentmaker. I could labor
with rny hands, too, or perhaps I could teach."
But both teaching and the ministry would require an
education. This would cost money, and the elder Campbell
had little of it, for he was himself a minister in a little country
parish. Still, although college might be out of the question, the
father might teach the son that thorough knowledge of the
Bible a minister required, and the Hebrew and Greek needed
to translate it in its original tongues, without which one could
often not get its real meaning. And in return, the son was more
than willing to be of all the help he could in his father's parish.
A Scottish Education
So the two continued to talk. The boy told of his struggles
to keep the family together since his father's departure, and of
the year of study at the University of Glasgow. There he had
worked very hard, rising at four o'clock, going to his first class
at six, and having no time for breakfast until ten. Besides his
regular college work he had been able to find time for a great
deal of general reading. The year had ended all too soon.
Too Many Churches
The elder Campbell had much to tell, too. The ocean
voyage and the rugged life in the New World had benefited
his health, as the doctors told him it might do. The town of
THOMAS AND ALEXANDER CAMPBELL 23 1
Washington, Pennsylvania, In which he settled was small but
the people were good to him. Most of the inhabitants of that
part of the state were Quakers or Lutherans, but there were
Presbyterians, Reformed Churchmen, Baptists and Method-
ists, and not infrequently several varieties of each. Indeed
there were far too many kinds of churches, and each believed
itself the only true one. Worse than that, there was often
quarreling and un-Christlike rivalry.
The Goal: Christian Unity
For the Campbells this day of reunion was a day of cele-
bration, but it was also a historic day for America, for these two
men were to play a major part In founding one of the great
Protestant religious bodies. Oddly enough, this was what both
wanted least of all. Even today "Disciples," as their followers
are usually called, much prefer to think of themselves as a
movement toward human brotherhood and not as a denomin-
ation. The Campbells had dedicated their lives to the cause of
making the Protestant Church unite. But they did a great deal
for Protestantism even though they could not achieve their
great ambition, and the emphasis they put on Christian unity
is a leaven still at work.
In recent years some very important mergers have oc-
curred among the churches. Though the great majority of
denominations remain distinct, the feeling among them is
much better than it was a century ago. Few of them any longer
think of themselves as God's sole elect.
Alexander Chooses the Ministry
As the Campbells talked, father and son were surprised
to find on how many things they felt alike. The elder man had
already been urging more Christian unity, and had been cen-
sured by his presbytery for inviting all members of his con-
gregation to share in the Communion service, regardless of
232 The Church Across the Street
what sect they might be. The presbytery had taken this stand,
despite the fact that there were no other churches In the neigh-
borhood w T hlch non-Presbyterians might have attended.
Alexander had made up his mind on the matter when he
noticed that only those whose membership In a Presbyterian
church w T as attested by a little metal token were permitted to
take Communion In his home church in Glasgow. When he
realized that this meant the exclusion of all other Christians,
he had thrown the token back Into the collection plate.
The years that followed seemed all too short to both
father and son. Alexander spent them taking a rigid course of
study laid out by his father. The major part of it was devoted
to the Bible. He read It with minute care, and learned to
translate It from the original Greek and Hebrew versions.
Different passages were compared with painstaking diligence.
There was also much church history, and some of the classics
of literature. He became known in later life for the breadth
of his knowledge on many subjects.
Thomas Campbell Expelled From the Presbytery
Thomas Campbell had already been compelled to leave
the presbytery, after being found guilty of administering the
Lord's Supper with "unbecoming laxity" and expressing senti-
ments "very different from sentiments held and professed by
the (Presbyterian) church." During this time the father con-
tinued to preach, usually in farmhouses or even barns, wher-
ever he happened to be, and it was not long before his followers
organized a religious society which they called the "Christian
Association of Washington" to avoid any suggestion of de-
nominationalism. This was to be, according to the famous
"Declaration and Address" formulated at the same time by
Thomas Campbell, an association "free from all mixture of
human opinions and inventions of men," which "by no means
considers itself a church," and which would only "practice that
simple original form of Christianity, expressly exhibited upon
THOMAS AND ALEXANDER CAMPBELL 233
the sacred page." Two years later, however, the Christian
Association organized itself as a Church and in 1813 joined
the Redstone Baptist Association thus becoming denomi-
national after all. Thomas Campbell became an "elder*' of the
church; Alexander, who at twenty- two was now ready to be a
minister himself, was licensed to preach in its pulpit, although,
like his father, he also often spoke in farmhouses and barns.
It was not long before the younger man was also widely known
for his able and fearless utterances.
Alexander Campbell Marries
About this time, too, he met a very attractive young girl
of eighteen with whom he promptly fell in love, and they were
married on March 12, 1811. They had much in common, for
both were intelligent and well educated for the time, and six-
teen years of happiness followed. For a wedding present (and
also to dissuade his somewhat venturesome son-in-law from
leading a party to Ohio to form a religious colony) the bride's
father gave the couple his large farm, and this solved the prob-
lem of a livelihood. The house became the Campbell home-
stead, and furnished room for a study and later even a post-
office, from which his Christian Baptist and other publications
could be mailed. Nearby was a little stream which Campbell
liked to call "the beautiful flowing Buffalo" and which also
served to premoisten the paper on which his tracts were
printed; a small building on its banks housed the printing
Accused of Heresy
But other matters now claimed the attention of the
Campbells, father and son. Study of the Bible had convinced
them that baptism by immersion was the only proper way, and
so they and their congregation were baptized in a neighboring
river; previous baptism by sprinkling no longer seemed valid.
234 The Church Across the Street
It was then that they applied for admission to the local Red-
stone Baptist Association, and were accepted.
Not long afterward, however, Alexander was asked to
preach a sermon at the annual meeting of the Association and
soon found himself accused of heresy by certain older minis-
ters because he had suggested that the teachings of Christ had
made certain Old Testament laws out of date. Acquittal fol-
lowed, but his enemies continued to press the charge each year,
and so he eventually withdrew.
A New Church Founded:
Disciples of Christ
Now it was that the crucial question came up. The Camp-
bells had won many followers in Pennsylvania, Kentucky,
Ohio and Virginia, and yet no existing denomination would
receive them. So, very reluctantly, it was decided to found a
new religious society. This, they hoped, would be the begin-
ning not of a new denomination, but rather of an organization
patterned on the original or apostolic Church founded by
Christ himself. It was to be based only on New Testament
teachings, and dedicated to the cause of Christian unity. To
carry out this idea, the name "Disciples of Christ" was chosen.
By some it was and is still known as the "Christian Church/'
but this name is shared with several smaller sects.
One of these sects was largely due to the reforming work
of an itinerant Kentucky preacher named Barton W. Stone, to
whom the Disciples also owe much. He had previously been a
Presbyterian, but he was of an independent turn of mind and
even when ordained into the Presbyterian ministry would only
agree to accept the Westminster Confession "as far as I see it
consistent with the word of God." Later he and a small group
The meetinghouse (restoration) in Cane Ridge, Kentucky. (Disci*
pies of Christ Historical Society)
236 The Church Across the Street
of other like-minded men led a group of churches known as
the "Springfield Presbytery" out of the Presbyterian fold, after
writing a somewhat whimsical list of articles of dissolution
which they called "The Last Will and Testament of the
Springfield Presbytery." A portion of this remarkable docu-
ment 1 is worth quoting:
The Presbytery of Springfield, sitting at Cane-ridge, in the
County of Bourbon, being, through a gracious Providence, in
more than ordinary bodily health, growing in strength and size
daily; and in perfect soundness and composure of mind; and know-
ing that it is appointed for all delegated bodies once to die; and
considering that the life of every such body is very uncertain, do
make and ordain this our last Will and Testament, in manner and
form following, viz.:
Imprimis. We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and
sink into union with the Body of Christ at large, for there is but
one Body, and one Spirit. . . .
Item. We will, that our powers of making laws for the gov-
ernment of the church, and executing them by delegated authority,
forever cease; that the people may have free course to the Bible. . . .
Item. We will, that each particular church, as a body . . .
choose her own preacher. . . .
Item. We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as
the only sure guide to heaven; and as many are offended with other
books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the
fire if they choose; for it is better to enter into life having one book,
than having many to be cast into hell.
Item. We will, that preachers and people, cultivate a spirit
of mutual forbearance; pray more and dispute less. . . .
Item. We will, that the Synod of Kentucky examine every
member, who may be suspected of having departed from the Con-
fession of Faith, and suspend every such suspected heretic imme-
diately; in order that the oppressed may go free, and taste the
sweets of gospel liberty.
1 Quoted from W. E. Garrison and A. T. DeGroot, The Disciples of
Christ: A History, rev. ed. (St. Louis: Bethany, 1958) .
THOMAS AND ALEXANDER CAMPBELL 237
Item. Finally we will, that all our sister bodies read their
Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and
prepare for death before it is too late.
Springfield Presbytery, )
June 28th, 1804 )
To this was appended the names of six men, of whom
Stone was one, as "Witnesses."
As these quotations suggest, Stone came to believe that
the only creed of Christians should be the Bible, and when the
problem of finding a new name for the seceders arose, it
seemed best to call them simply "Christians," although by
some they were called "Stoneites." Later Stone met Alexander
Campbell and the two became close friends, with the result
that it was agreed that "Christians," of whom there were
then about 13,000 spread rather widely through the South and
central West and "Disciples" should "act as one," despite the
fact that they did not at the time actually merge.
Stone continued to be an independent thinker as long as
he lived, but he tells us: "My opportunity to read was very
limited, being compelled to manual labor daily on my farm,
but so intently engaged was my mind . . . that I always took
with me in my cornfield my pen and ink, and as thoughts
worthy of note occurred, I would cease from my labor and
commit them to paper." During a long life (he died in 1844,
at the age of seventy-two) he wrote a great deal. Some of his
opinions stirred up considerable controversy, for he even
questioned the orthodox view of the Atonement, and doubted
the Trinity, with the result that he was sometimes (though
inaccurately) accused of being a Unitarian.
A New Plan for Preaching
Another pioneer preacher to whom the Disciples owe
much was Walter Scott, a distant relative of the great English
novelist of the same name. Scott had gained a good educatior
238 The Church Across the Street
at the University of Edinburgh and journeyed to America in
the spring of 1819. He became a teacher in a school in Pitts-
burgh, made up of "humble, pious people, mostly Scotch and
Irish/* These people were attempting to live as did the early
Christians, practicing foot-washing and the "Holy Kiss/' and
baptizing by immersion. Locally they were known as the "kiss-
ing Baptists/' A few years later Scott became minister of their
little church, but was never happy about the religious atmos-
phere in it or in others like it. Religion seemed to lack a
popular appeal. 2 Eventually he devised a plan o preaching
that seemed to solve the problem present the evidence that
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (based on the Gospel
story, which no one then doubted). Then his hearers need only
to repent of their sins and resolve to sin no more, with the
implicit obligation thereafter to lead a godly life, and be
baptized. God would then forgive their sins, confer on them
the gift of the Holy Spirit and grant eternal life.
This was a presentation the common people could under-
stand, especially when made by such a consummate orator as
Scott, and converts flowed into the local Baptist churches. But
many of the more orthodox were not happy: emphasis on
Biblical teaching alone, irrespective of the Philadelphia Con-
fession of Faith, to which Baptist churches were then required
to assent, was too radical an innovation. So, after Scott met
Campbell in the winter of 1821-1822, it was not long before
they became fast friends, and the eventual result was that the
dissenting churches were added to the rapidly growing body
Yet their very growth stirred up vigorous opposition and
ridicule. They were often derisively dubbed "Campbellites."
One Congregational missionary to the Middle West spoke of
"the deluded Mormon (s) and Campbellite (s)"; another de-
clared "Campbellism" to be "the great curse of the West/ 1
Others lumped together atheism, Campbellism and drunken-
ness. A Presbyterian revivalist in 1841 said:
2 This was a time when organized religion in America was at a low ebb;
only about 10 per cent of the population belonged to any church.
THOMAS AND ALEXANDER CAMPBELL 259
It seemed as if the Devil was allarmed from the first 8c began
his work; letters were dropped in the street, reports of all kinds
were circulated Sc the Campbellites the common enemy of all came
with the expectation of setting in ful operation their water-works
for converting men but they failed some have left them & are
now saying they have been deceived Be are now rejoicing in hope
through the blood of the lamb Others say they have no religion.
O! That God would sweep this dreadful delusion from the land. 3
"The Prince of Preachers"
Alexander Campbell spent the rest of his life furthering
the interests of the new Church. He was a brilliant public
speaker, but his kindly, learned and yet simple manner also
fascinated people. His utter sincerity carried conviction. He
traveled extensively, and great audiences greeted him every-
where. Some called him "the prince of preachers." He was
even invited to address Congress. His greatest success was with
the common people. Much of his travel was on horseback or on
foot, over poor roads or over none, and in this frontier country
of the South and West he gained his greatest following. Even
today it is in these states that the Disciples are strongest.
Though interested primarily in religious questions,
Campbell successfully ran for election as a delegate to the Con-
stitutional Convention of 1829, held to rewrite the constitu-
tion of Virginia. He had hoped to have introduced into the
new constitution some provision against slavery, but when this
proved impossible he stood solidly for a more democratic
system of state government also without much success.
When he was at home, Campbell was accustomed to rise
at three in the morning and write until breakfast time. In this
way he often accomplished enough to keep his printers busy
for the rest of the day. In seven years more than 40,000 copies
of his work were sold. Among them was a new translation of
the New Testament, but this was not a great success no doubt
because it was difficult for readers to become accustomed to
8 Quoted from W. E. Garrison and A. T. DeGroot, op. cit.
240 The Church Across the Street
the use of contemporary English, and especially to changes
such as substitution of the word "immersion" for "baptism"
(for Campbell was convinced that no other mode of baptism
was practiced in New Testament times), and reference to
"John the Immersionist" for "John the Baptist" of the Author-
ized Version. All this was in addition to the circulation of the
paper he edited, at first known as The Christian Baptist and
later as The Millennial Harbinger. Yet, in spite of these many
activities, he found time to manage his farm so skillfully that
it furnished him a good living. Popular minister that he was,
he never drew a salary from any church.
Bethany College Founded
Somehow he also found time to found and teach in Beth-
any College. It was to be a school for teaching "vigorous
young men" to carry on the cause to which he had dedicated
his life, and with this aim the college was built on a beautiful
hilltop in what is now Bethany, West Virginia; it was formally
opened in 1841. Though no longer limited to "vigorous young
men" interested in the ministry, Bethany still gives young men
and women a liberal education without which true tolerance
and appreciation of ethical values is difficult; thus it carries on
the ideals of its founder. The college and the old Campbell
homestead together still make the town of Bethany a kind of
shrine for Disciples.
As the years passed, his life was saddened by his father's
failing sight and eventual total blindness and, in 1854, by the
old man's death at the age of ninety. Nevertheless, even at the
age of seventy, when many men are glad to retire, Alexander
Campbell was still young enough to undertake the arduous
task of raising money to rebuild the college after a disastrous
fire. It has today one of the most scenic campuses in West
Virginia. The Disciples also have a number of other schools;
among them are Drake University in Iowa, Butler University
in Indiana, and Texas Christian University.
Portrait of Alexander Campbell. (Disciples of Christ Historical
242 The Church A cross the Street
Campbell died in Bethany in 1866, leaving behind him a
movement which had already become great; even then it could
claim more than 350,000 members. What is there about it that
In belief, the Disciples are convinced as are also the
Baptists and Mormons that immersion is the only proper
method of baptism. (It is interesting that some of the early
Disciples later became Mormons; among them, Sidney Rig-
don, at first a Disciples preacher and later an unsuccessful can-
didate for the leadership assumed by Brigham Young.) Like
the Baptists, they are also congregational in church govern-
ment, each church being entirely independent in the manage-
ment of its own affairs. They have evangelists, pastors, elders
and deacons, but no bishops or higher ecclesiastical officials.
The Lord's Supper is celebrated every Sunday. Since Campbell
thought all creeds man-made, the Church he founded never
had one. Nevertheless, the emphasis he placed on the Bible as
the foundation of Christianity has resulted in a very literal
interpretation of it by many Disciples. Others believe that new
translations, for example, may throw new light on its mean-
ings. They also share Campbell's conviction that Christianity
represents a "new dispensation" not dependent on the Old
Testament in any way.
The Disciples of Christ, or the International Convention
of Christian Churches as they are officially known, have slight-
ly more than 8,000 churches and nearly 2 million members in
the United States. There are also Disciples churches scattered
in many other parts of the world, with about 100 in Canada,
and they carry on an extensive missionary program. One of the
areas where they are especially active is the Congo, in which
they have organized more than 1,000 churches, totaling about
125,000 members; here, too, they maintain hospitals and
THOMAS AND ALEXANDER CAMPBELL 243
The elder Campbell had said, "Where the Scriptures
speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent."
But this led eventually to trouble for the Disciples as it has for
many other Protestants. For who was to decide just what the
Scriptures meant? If nothing was said in Holy Writ about a
thing, was it therefore to be regarded as forbidden because it
was not expressly permitted, or permitted because it was not
expressly forbidden? As a young man, Alexander Campbell
himself took the former position, saying, "It is not enough that
it is not forbidden [in the Bible] it is not commanded/' and
he therefore opposed Sunday Schools, missionary societies,
organs in churches, and the use of the title "Reverend" for
ministers. He modified this viewpoint somewhat in later years.
Thus the young Church became involved in controversy
in later years about just these things. Nothing is said in the
Gospels about Sunday Schools, Church societies of any kind,
stained-glass windows or even organs. The dispute finally be-
came bitter, and the "anti's" founded a religious group of
their own, which they called the "Churches of Christ." They
now claim over 2 million members, and are thus larger than
the parent group; their membership is largely in the far South-
west. In accordance with what they believe has been the
custom of the early Church, they even refuse to have any
central organization and there are no officers above those of
the local churches. But one may ask, perhaps, whether doing
without whatever people did not have when Christ walked the
earth is really being Christlike.
The story of the Disciples again illustrates the obstacles
that beset Christian unity. Can any one system of belief or of
worship meet with the needs of all men, or with universal
acceptance? Mankind differs, and perhaps religious experience
that satisfies one person may not another. Yet only in union is
there strength. Christians have not solved the problem, al-
though the widespread movement toward denominational
mergers is an attempt to do so. Campbell did not solve it
either, when he proposed to substitute for the "iron creed" a
244 The Church Across the Street
rather literal acceptance of the Bible, and emphasized a com-
ing millenium when righteousness would rule the earth. Yet
his insistence on the un-Biblical character of denominations
has undoubtedly done much to further mutual understanding
among them in our time.
T 3- J ose ph Smith
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,
and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important
things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and
in doing good to all men. ... If there is anything virtuous, lovely,
or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
In the winter of 1820 the small town of Manchester, New
York, had a protracted series of exciting revival meetings, and
almost everybody in the town was converted. When the meet-
ings were over, however, the Presbyterian and Methodist and
Baptist ministers, who up to that time had been working most
heartily together, began competing for the new converts. All
their former friendly feelings were "entirely lost in a strife of
words and a contest about opinions/'
In the Smith household, the mother, two brothers and a
sister decided to join the Presbyterian Church. Joseph was
partial to the Methodists; yet the Presbyterians talked so vio-
lently against the Methodists, and the Baptists tried so hard to
prove all others wrong but themselves that Joseph was left
confused. Who was right and who was wrong? How could a
boy of fourteen know, having so little knowledge of these
246 The Church Across the Street
While laboring under these difficulties, he was one day
reading his Bible. The verse he came upon was in the Epistle
of James. "If any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God,
that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it
shall be given him."
Joseph Smith's First Vision
Joseph was startled by the words. Wisdom was exactly
what he needed, and he hadn't known how to get it. But now
he had found his directions. The words must be true since
they were in the Bible. Could he really ask God for the wisdom
he needed? Joseph determined to do just that.
So, on the morning of a beautiful clear day in spring, he
took a stroll into a nearby woods. Soon finding himself alone,
he knelt down and prayed. He asked God to give him the
wisdom he needed. For a few moments, all seemed black about
him. He felt tongue-tied and his body bound as if by an
What happened next is best told in Joseph's own words.
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the bright-
ness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me
When the light rested on me I saw two personages, whose bright-
ness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.
One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, point-
ing to the other This is my Beloved Son, hear Him. . . . No
sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to
speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light,
which of all the sects was right and which I should join. I was
answered that I should join none of them, for they were all wrong.
All their creeds were an abomination in his sight; . . . and many
other things did he say to me, which I cannot write at this time.
When I came to myself again I found myself lying on my back,
looking up into heaven. 1
Naturally enough Joseph told his experience to his family
1 Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (Utah: Desexet
Press, 1924) , p 44.
JOSEPH SMITH 247
and to some of his friends in the town. When opportunity
came, he related his story to the Methodist minister. But this
good man treated Joseph's experience "not only lightly, but
with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there
were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that
there never would be any more of them."
This was humiliating to Joseph. For three long years he
had no more revelations. He was just a farmer's son doing his
daily chores. Although his family seems to have been sympa-
thetic with his independent attitude toward the churches,
many in the town ridiculed his claims.
Joseph Smith's Second Vision
The young man himself grew deeply troubled. He longed
for more wisdom. A second crisis came in September 1823,
after he had gotten into bed for the night. Again he saw a
wonderful light and a person in shining robes stood above his
bed. This heavenly messenger said his name was Moroni, the
son of Mormon, the last of the prophets of God in America.
At first Joseph was frightened, but the angel said: "Do
not be afraid. I have come to call you to a great work/' Then
Moroni told the young man many things. He opened to him
a new understanding of the history of America and of the
world. He said that the time would soon come when Christ
would return to the earth to reign as king over the world.
These were the "Latter Days" before Christ's second coming.
And Joseph Smith was to be a prophet to prepare people for
this great day of the Lord.
Three times during the night this same messenger ap-
peared. He told Joseph of a book written on sheets of gold that
lay hidden under the ground at a certain spot near the top of
Cumorah Hill near Palmyra. Mormon, Moroni's father, had
written most of the chapters before his death, and Moroni had
completed them and hidden the book. If Joseph would hum-
bly accept the sacred task, he would be given the wisdom
needed to translate the book. But until it was translated and
248 The Church Across the Street
printed in the English language, it was not to be seen by any
other eyes than his own.
That very afternoon Joseph climbed the hill and found
the hidden book of golden sheets. But when he tried to pull
it out he was unable to lift it. Again the angel appeared and
told him that the time for him to take it had not yet come.
"A year from today return to this spot." For four consecutive
years Joseph made his annual visit alone to this spot. Finally
taking with him a chest from home, he returned with the
For several years Joseph Smith 2 labored in translating
the book, which is about one-third the length of the Old
Testament. Sitting behind a dark curtain, he dictated his
translation to a faithful amanuensis on the other side of the
When finally an edition of five thousand copies was
printed, three names besides that of Joseph Smith were signed
to it, under a sworn statement that they had seen the golden
plates. Martin Harris, one of these witnesses, was later asked:
"Did you really see the plates with your natural eyes just as
you see the penholder in my hand?" He answered: "Well, I
did not see them just as I see the penholder, but I saw them
with the eye of faith."
In this manner, the Book of Mormon was presented to
mankind as a second inspired Word of God not to replace
the Old and New Testaments, but to be added to them, giving
a later sacred record of God's dealings with men. When the
translation was completed the golden plates were said to have
been returned to the angel.
What Is the Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon continues the great Story of Salva-
tion as it was begun in the Old and New Testaments. It deals
2 Mr. Israel Smith, president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints, and grandson of Joseph Smith, states that "All authentic
historic sources show that the plates were received from the angel on September
22, 1827, and translated in less than two years."
The Angel Moroni delivering the plates of the Book* of Mormon
to Joseph Smith. (The Bettmann Archive)
250 The Church A cross the Street
especially with the spread of the gospel to the new world.
Joseph Smith called the letters in which it was written "Re-
formed Egyptian Hieroglyphics/'
The Book of Mormon tells of two major migrations to
the new world. The first came from Chaldea after the destruc-
tion of the Tower of Babel. In eight barges and under divine
guidance, this group of God's "Chosen People" sailed across
the Atlantic and settled in South America. For hundreds of
years they thrived, increased in numbers and achieved a high
civilization in Central America and Mexico. They were dis-
obedient, however, to the law of God and later were extermi-
A second migration came from Jerusalem after the two
great capitals of Samaria and Jerusalem had been destroyed
and the tribes of Israel scattered. These emigres were remnants
of the lost tribes of Israel. About A.D. 400, guided by divine
providence, they too crossed the ocean and settled in the
Americas. These came in two groups named after their leaders.
One was called the Nephites; the other, the Lamanites. The
Lamanites, because of their wickedness, were later cursed with
"dark skins" and became wild. These were the ancestors of
the American Indians. The other group, the Nephites, were
more civilized and for hundreds of years were the dominant
race in America. Jesus, after his resurrection, appeared among
the Nephites and gave them the gospel. Later, from time to
time, prophets were sent to them, but even the Nephites gave
themselves over to wickedness, and they, too, were finally ex-
terminated. Mormon, the last of these Nephite prophets, be-
fore he died wrote a history of all these events. His son Moroni
completed the writing, and hid the book so that the story
might be preserved and found in the "Latter Days/' when
God would send another prophet to prepare mankind for the
second coming of Christ after which he would rule the world
in peace and righteousness for a thousand years.
The whole story, as told in the Book of Mormon, is de-
picted annually in a mammoth outdoor pageant acted on the
slopes of the "Hill Cumorah" near the site where Mormons
believe Joseph Smith found the golden plates. Each year tens
JOSEPH SMITH 251
of thousands of people flock to this great spectacle from all
over central New York.
The Mormons, therefore, believe that they are the
modern descendants of God's "Chosen People/' and that the
coming of their prophet Joseph Smith and the establishment
of their church was prophesied in the Old Testament. From
this belief they derive the name by which they prefer to be
called "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
They have always had a special interest in the American In-
dians, since they share with the Indians the honor of being
descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. The Indian ancestors
are called Lamanites. One branch of the Mormon church has
its headquarters in Lamoni, Iowa, a town named after them.
The Beginnings of the New Church
The publication of the Book of Mormon created a great
stir. Some were contemptuous, yet many others were im-
pressed. In the home of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, New York,
six men met Peter and David Whitmer, three of the Smith
family, Hyrum, Samuel and Joseph, and the faithful amanu-
ensis Oliver Cowdry. These six men together partook of the
Lord's Supper and made a solemn covenant with one another
and God and prayed for one another. In this way the new
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized. Six
men, from three families in an insignificant town what
could they accomplish?
The story of the years from that memorable date to the
time when the Mormons were peacefully established in Utah,
is a story of intense enthusiasms and devotion, coupled with
almost continuous persecution. They believed themselves to
be inheritors of a new Kingdom. They were divinely commis-
sioned to build the New Jerusalem on earth, to prepare a
righteous city fit for the throne of the returning Messiah.
Although none of the six men was religiously educated or
ordained, they went from town to town gathering small groups
in little parlors or in woodland groves, and proclaimed to them
252 The Church A cross the Street
the new revelation. As the groups increased and enlarged, they
tended to form their own communal societies, separate from
the "Gentiles*' as they called all who were not of their Church.
Their first large settlement was in the lovely little town of
Kirtland, Ohio, near the present site of Cleveland. Their
beautiful building still stands and is in regular use by the
Mormons of the area, who belong to the Reorganized Church.
Joseph Smith was continually pushing his converts
farther west, partly because of the persecution they met and
partly because he dreamed of their building the New Jerusa-
lem. For this they needed to find a beautiful spot where they
could own their own homes and build a new city. From the
beginning, it was revealed to him that each person who joined
the Church should give one-tenth or a tithe of all he possessed
to the Church, and from that time on should continue to give
one-tenth of his yearly income. So the treasury of the church
grew. Within three years they dedicated their first temple, a
truly imposing structure for the town of Kirtland.
Nauvoo the City Beautiful
Mormon settlements grew rapidly in different towns in
New York, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri. The largest and most
famous city was called Nauvoo the City Beautiful. On the
east bank of the Mississippi River it rested peacefully, as if in
the river's folded arm. In spite of the unfriendliness of their
neighbors, the Mormons soon dominated the city of Nauvoo,
with its population of nearly 20,000 people. They made it not
only the largest city in the state but also one of the most beauti-
ful. In the center of the city they built a temple costing
|600,000. They also started a university.
Joseph Smith became mayor. He even organized a
Nauvoo Legion and wore the uniform of a commander. Un-
fortunately, he became tyrannical in his government, and, as
some believe, profligate in his own private life. Slanders multi-
plied. It was here that he first announced a revelation regard-
ing multiple marriage for men. Some of his own people be-
JOSEPH SMITH 253
A few enemies within his own Church began publishing
a newspaper, in which they expressed their criticisms of Joseph
Smith's rule. As mayor, he saw to it that the newspaper was
suppressed after the first issue. Just to be doubly sure, he had
the presses thrown into the street and the type pied.
A Mob Lynches the Mormon Leaders
The fat was in the fire. Enemies inside and outside the
Church rallied against him. They succeeded in having him
arrested on a trumped up charge. Joseph Smith and his brother
Hyrum were taken to the neighboring town of Carthage where
they were jailed.
The rough-and-ready pioneers of Illinois were not con-
tent to let the law take its course. A mob stormed the jail and
shot to death both Joseph and his brother Hyrum.
Now the new Church had what it most needed martyrs.
Who was to take the "Prophet's" place? This was now a
pressing problem. Many wished to do so and Joseph Smith
himself had designated no one, 3 Fortunately, the man who was
chosen to succeed the fallen prophet had extraordinary ad-
ministrative ability. This was Brigham Young, a former house
painter and carpenter from Vermont. His faith in Joseph was
tinctured with no hint of skepticism or shred of doubt about
the Prophet's revelations. Moreover, this new leader had
learned much of human nature as a missionary of the Church
in England. Of formal schooling he had little, but life itself
had taught him much.
The Exodus from Nauvoo
The popular prejudice against the Mormons grew into
hatred. The governor of the state was informed that he would
have to find a way to force the Mormons out of the state. The
Mormons, sensing the growing enmity, promised to leave in
the spring. All they asked was that they be given an opportu-
8 Mormons of the Reorganized Church believe that Joseph Smith, while
he was still in Nauvoo in 1843, selected his son Joseph as his successor.
254 The Church A cross the Street
nity to sell their property at fair prices. Brigham Young, as well
as all his followers, saw clearly that if the "Saints" were to
survive, they would have to migrate to virgin territory far from
the Gentile world. Just where their final New Jerusalem would
be established, neither Brigham Young nor any one else knew,
yet they had faith to believe that God would lead them.
The town of Nauvoo began to bustle with new kinds of
activity. Houses, furnishings, land were quickly sold and the
money secured was turned into wagons, horses, oxen and pro-
visions for a long trek. By the middle of May 1846, Brigham
Young and about sixteen thousand of the inhabitants of the
City Beautiful had crossed the Mississippi River and were on
their way through Iowa to their rendezvous on the banks of
the Missouri near the present site of Council Bluffs.
The Mormons staying behind hoped to remain till a new
settlement could be established. But the irate neighbors in
towns nearby grew impatient. In September a battalion of 800
armed men laid siege to the town for three days. The enfeebled
Mormons tried to resist, but finally, being so poorly armed,
they had to surrender. The invaders promised to give the
Mormons time to make their departure in an orderly fashion.
When once in the city, the invaders began to plunder the
houses and mistreat the people. They gave some families an
hour and others a day in which to gather up their belongings.
The old and sick and mothers with small children were ruth-
lessly forced into wagons or rushed on foot to the river ferry,
without adequate supplies of clothing or food. The winter was
just beginning. The deserted city was then further plundered.
Many homes were burned and the beautiful temple, for which
the Mormons had sacrificed their money and devoted labor
was turned into a heap of rubble.
The Long Trek
The long line of covered wagons made a trail across the
state of Iowa. On the banks of the Missouri and the Mississippi
rivers these exiles set up winter quarters. Many died of priva-
JOSEPH SMITH 255
tion and sickness. With the coining of April, 15,000 of the
exiles were able to begin once more their westward pilgrimage.
The long line of covered wagons again rolled across the plains
toward the setting sun.
Finally on July 24, 1847, Brigham Young and about two
hundred of his hardiest pioneers reached the mouth of the
canyon through which they "gazed with wonder and admira-
tion upon the vast valley" they were seeking. Before them to
the west was spread like a glistening sheet of silver the Great
Salt Lake, and below stretched a wide gray desert, encircled
by a wall of purplish and rust-colored cliffs, with snow-capped
mountains on the far horizon. Brigham Young, sick with
mountain fever, was reclining in one of the carriages. Yet like
all his company, he was captured by the grandeur of the scene.
He ordered his driver to stop till all had feasted their eyes upon
it. Finally, he said: "This is the place. Drive on!"
"The Promised Land' 9
To those pioneers, seeking only freedom of worship and
liberty to live as they thought right, the experience must have
brought mingled feelings. Freedom they certainly would have,
for the world of the Gentiles had been left a thousand miles
behind them, but what would the freedom be worth? The
land was dry, the climate severe. Natural resources seemed
Brigham Young, however, saw what his people did not.
Here and there were mountain streams trickling into the val-
ley. Within an hour after the caravan halted, his men had their
plows out of the wagons and they were breaking up the soil,
while other men with spades began damming up one of the
It was not long before Brigham Young's engineering
genius and Mormon industry made a garden spot of what had
been desert. The Territory of Deseret, as this vast land was
called by these pioneers, became indeed a "Promised Land/'
"flowing with milk and honey/'
^^ rte mowi/z o/ Emigration Canyon, Utah, Mgham Young an-
nounced to his followers, "This is the place" and chose it as the
end of their trek across the plains. This mural painting by John
McQuarrie is on the walls of the Union Pacific station in Salt Lake
City. (Swing Galloway)
258 The Church Across the Street
To be sure, primitive and distressing conditions faced the
first settlers, but these were slowly overcome. Converts even
from foreign lands, especially from England and Scandinavia,
flocked to this inter-mountain country. When they had come
as far as boats and trains could carry them, these immigrants
continued their journey across the Great Plains in covered
wagons. Some even came on foot, carrying their baggage or
pulling it behind them in handcarts. Little children of seven
or eight trudged along beside their parents. There were babies,
too, some even born on the way. Many a child, and many a
grownup, perished on the road. Those who survived pushed
on, leaving small heaps of freshly turned sod behind.
Of such stuff were these Mormon pioneers. Faith and
courage are noble partners, yet these two alone would scarcely
have sufficed without the genius and able leadership of Brig-
ham Young. Some historians have called him the ablest colo-
nizer of modern times.
The Mormon Church
The Mormon gospel was planted in the West at a time
when the country west of the Missouri was largely uncharted
and unknown. In spite of contempt, hatred and persecution,
the Church has grown and prospered. It now numbers more
than a million and a half members, of whom all but about
150,000 belong to the parent Church, which has its headquar-
ters in Salt Lake City. The Reorganized Church, with head-
quarters in Independence, Missouri, accounts for most of the
others. The Mormons are the largest sect in Utah (about 70
per cent) and Idaho, and are also strong in neighboring states;
they are growing rapidly even in the East. Many new chapels
(the Mormon term for a local church) have been built in this
area in the past two decades. Few large cities are without their
congregations of Latter-day Saints. Although their member-
JOSEPH SMITH 259
ship is largely confined to the United States, yet in normal
times about two thousand Mormon missionaries, most of
whom are young men, and all of whom serve without pay, are
spreading their gospel in other lands and continents. These
young men are usually in the field for two years. Salt Lake City
in a way is their Holy City, although only about 40 per cent of
its present population of 200,000 people belong to the
Reasons for Their Persecution
By many, Mormonism is identified with polygamy. This
has been not only unfortunate, but unfair. In the first place,
the Mormon practice of having a plurality of wives and being
sexually promiscuous should not be equated. It is to be
doubted whether any Church has valued chastity more highly
than have the Mormons.
Furthermore, it was not until Brigham Young made
public in 1852 a revelation, which he said had been given to
Joseph Smith nine years earlier, that polygamy became an
accepted Mormon practice. He defended the new rule by the
example of Old Testament "men of God/' such as Abraham,
Jacob and David, and on the basis of the command to Adam
to be "fruitful and multiply/'
The tardily announced proclamation promptly stirred
up bitter dissension, with the resulting secession of a rather
large group now known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. This group also rejects such Mor-
mon doctrines as the "baptism of the dead" and "celestial
marriage." All the direct descendants of Joseph Smith have
chosen to ally themselves with this Church, and several of them
have been leaders of it.
In 1890, now over a half-century ago, the parent Church
banned all plural marriages. Whatever we may think about
the practice among Mormons in the past, we should realize
that plural marriage is now a dead issue.
It would seem, therefore, that the practice called polyg-
260 The Church Across the Street
amy by outsiders, was In reality an excuse for violence rather
than the real cause of the widespread hatred of Mormons.
There must have been other reasons. What were they?
Joseph Smith's early claim that he had received an im-
portant new revelation was naturally a challenge to all creedal
churches that held the Bible contained a full revelation of all
saving truth. His further claim that all the other churches
were fraudulent made the Mormons no friends. Their tactless-
ness in calling themselves "saints" while others were "sinners/'
and their claiming to be the "Chosen People" while others
were "Gentiles" also seemed arrogant.
The Mormons set themselves off as different from others,
not only in their beliefs but in their everyday practices. Wher-
ever they gathered, they formed a community life of their own
apart from others. They were organized for cooperative living.
It was communism with a religious motive within the bound-
aries of their sect. Their people were not merely admonished
to be generous to their neighbors, they were told just how
much was expected of them and in just what ways their con-
tributions should be made. Religion was a matter of life in this
present world as well as a concern for eternity. As a result,
wherever the Mormons were allowed to settle for any length
of time, they became prosperous and their communism seemed
a threat to the American way of private competing enterprise.
Because of their numbers and their growing prosperity in
Nauvoo, they held the balance of political power in the state
Their Present Prosperity
The Church of the Latter-day Saints is now an immensely
wealthy organization. In Utah it owns or has important hold-
ings in numerous factories and industries. In Salt Lake City
it owns office buildings, banks, mills, insurance companies,
and has a large interest in Zion's Co-operative Mercantile In-
stitution, the biggest department store between the Missouri
and the West Coast, doing annually a business of many million
JOSEPH SMITH 261
dollars. The Church also owns two hotels, two hospitals, and
the Deseret News, an afternoon newspaper. They have a wel-
fare organization so efficient that few Mormons are unem-
ployed and none are allowed to suffer want. Included in it is a
process involving the storage of surplus commodities for future
use. To make this possible, a wheat elevator with a capacity of
318,000 bushels stands in Salt Lake City, and was built by
volunteer labor. There are also numerous other smaller store-
The tithing rule, early established, has contributed and
continues to contribute large funds for the promotion of the
Church. Even today one of the old tithing houses still stands
near the former home of Brigham Young. To this house the
early settlers brought every tenth egg or ear of corn or basket
of fruit as their share in the common enterprise.
While Brigham Young lived, he dominated both the
Church and the territory of Utah. For a time he was governor.
Even today in Salt Lake City names, monuments, buildings
continually remind one of this great leader. When he died in
1877, he had been husband to over twenty wives and had
fathered fifty-six children; his present-day descendants are
estimated to number more than 4,000. He had amassed a
fortune of over a million dollars and had built a truly beauti-
ful city. Beyond all these achievements, he had won the whole-
hearted and lasting respect of his people, and had seen the
triumph of the faith to which he had given his abounding
energies throughout a long life.
How the Church is Organized
According to Mormon claims, the organization is pat-
terned after that of the early apostolic Church. Over all is the
president (who is also called "Prophet" or "Revelator"). He is
chosen by the ''Twelve Apostles" and elected for life. He has
also two other counselors or "High Priests" to assist him.
The churches are organized into regional units known
as "Stakes of Zion." There are now 305 such Stakes. The Stakes
are divided into wards, each containing about 800 people (al-
262 The Church Across the Street
though the number varies considerably). Each ward is under
the jurisdiction of a bishop, assisted by two counselors. His
duties are varied: visiting the sick, arranging for relief of the
poor, conducting worship services, performing civil marriage
ceremonies, seeing to it that the ward building is kept in re-
pair. In many respects the bishop's duties are those of a minis-
ter of other denominations, but he is elected to office and is
unpaid. Mormons have no paid or full-time ministers. The
organization of the Church is closely knit and autocratic.
Authority is centralized. Yet the welfare of the individual with-
in the organization, regardless of social status, financial re-
sources or race is given primary importance.
There are other Mormon beliefs of significance which
have not yet been explained. Some are unique among Christ-
ian churches. Such is the belief that the dead may be baptized,
even including the heathen who have had no opportunity to
hear of Christ. This baptism is accomplished by proxy, some
relative or friend taking the dead man's part in the ceremony.
More than 17 million such baptisms have been performed.
So also is the belief in "celestial marriage." A marriage cere-
mony, sanctified (sealed) by the church, binds the partners not
only for this world but also for the next as well. The marriage
promise is not merely "till death do you part" but "for all
time and eternity." Such marriages, however, may only be
solemnized in Mormon temples, of which there are now eight
in various parts of the world, by a "few men delegated with
authority so to do." Civil marriages are performed by bishops.
The relationships between parents and children are also be-
lieved to continue through eternity. Women who remain out-
side of wedlock in this life, it is believed, do not enter heaven.
Yet there is no hell in Mormon theology. Like the Uni-
versalists, Mormons teach that everyone will be saved, but th^v
add that since some are more deserving they will receive a
higher place in heaven than others. Not only does this life not
end with death, it did not begin with birth, for they thijik that
JOSEPH SMITH 263
every human spirit has existed since the beginning of time;
it was "in the beginning with the Father/'
Mormons also believe in large families, and do not ap-
prove of birth control. They have a highly developed program
of recreation and education, which accords with two beliefs
on which they place special emphasis: that happiness is one of
the supreme ends of life, and that education is essential. "Men
are, that they might have joy/' declares the Book of Mormon,
and, "A man cannot be saved in ignorance."
Other major elements in their faith, however, the Mor-
mons share with other evangelical churches. Like the Baptists
they believe that baptism must be by immersion. They observe
Communion each Sunday as do the Disciples, although they
substitute water for the wind or grape juice used in most
churches. Like the Friends, the Mormons believe in the pos-
sibility of present and new revelations. Each person may have
direct access to God. Joseph Smith declared that all had not
been revealed in the sacred words of the Bible and many great
and important revelations are still to come. Such a belief
makes change and growth possible.
Instead of the trained and professional clergy of most
other churches, Mormons recognize two orders of priesthood
the Aaronic and the Melchizedek. The former has to do
with the temporal affairs of the Church, and its lowest grade,
that of deacon, is open even to boys of twelve. Both orders, and
all grades, may be held by any man who conforms to the neces-
sary standards of character set by the Church.
In regard to daily conduct, the Mormons are strict. "The
Word of Wisdom/' the Mormon health code, prohibits the
use of alcoholic drinks, tobacco, and even tea and coffee. Un-
doubtedly these rules are often honored in the breach, yet to
their observance the Mormons ascribe their unusually low
death rate. Many of them live active lives well into the nineties.
These Latter Days
The name "Latter-day Saints" refers to a belief that
Christ will soon come again to rule mankind. This doctrine is
264 The Church Across the Street
known as "millenarianism," because when Christ comes it is
thought he will reign for a thousand years before the end of
the world will come. (The Latin word for a thousand is mille.)
Joseph Smith believed that he was living in the "Latter Days"
and that he might witness the second coming of Christ. This
belief in Christ's second coming is shared by a number of other
denominations, such as the Seventh-day Adventists.
The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City
In the center of Salt Lake City is a ten-acre park. Here,
surrounded by a beautifully kept lawn and brilliant beds of
flowers, stand two great Mormon buildings the Temple and
the Tabernacle. The Temple is a tall, spired building con-
structed of white Utah marble. None but Mormons is allowed
to enter this sacred temple. Here baptisms, marriages and
other rituals ate performed. The Tabernacle is a large oval-
domed audience hall open to all and capable of holding 8,000
people. Here the Sunday morning services are held. Like the
temple in Jerusalem, it was built without nails or steel of any
kind. The music from its great pipe organ, with its nearly
8,000 pipes, is often broadcast on nationwide hookups. An-
nually a choir of 5,000 singers gathers from all the surrounding
"wards/' and leads the great assembly in a stirring music
Three years after Brigham Young and his pioneer band
rolled into the valley of Great Salt Lake in 1850, he started a
university. It is now the oldest state university west of the
Mississippi, with an enrollment of over 4,000 students. The
Mormons also have a university of their own in Provo, Utah,
with an enrollment of nearly 9,000 students, known as
Brigham Young University. In Idaho they maintain a junior
Night view of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Ewing
266 The Church A cross the Street
Although the church does not believe in religious
instruction in the public schools, it does believe in giving
children special instruction in religion. Beside almost all
public high schools, wherever Mormonism is strong, there
stands a smaller Mormon school building, to the number of
some two hundred in all. After school hours each day every
Mormon son and daughter is expected to attend a class in
Few churches have a saga as full of tragedy and of roman-
tic drama as is the history of the Mormon Church. It is Ameri-
can to the core. It fed on the belief in enterprise and success.
It grew from the grass roots of the American pioneer struggle.
It was originated by a young man, a farmer's son, who believed
in his own worth in the sight of God. It was led to strength and
prosperity by a man who had the eyes to see in a dry and barren
valley the possibility of a City of God. It was established by an
engineering genius, with a will power that refused to acknowl-
edge defeat, and a religious enthusiasm and conviction that
inspired and commanded all his people.
The Mormons are still significant in our American life.
What their future may be none can predict. That all churches
might learn much from them is certain.
. Mary Baker Eddy
Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to put us
into harmony with it.
God is love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is Intelligence. Can
we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already
comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection? Shall we plead
for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we
MARY BAKER EDDY
"As a Man Thinketh... 3
Mary Baker the Child
First it was just Mary Baker, the youngest of six children
in the family of a New Hampshire farmer. A pretty child, with
big blue eyes and brown curls, but frail and subject to illness.
Whatever may have been the cause, Mary was too frail
and too emotionally unstable a child to attend school regu-
larly. The two-mile walk to and from the country school was
too much for her. The noise and confusion of school life also
upset her. As a result, Mary's education was given her largely
at home, either by her grandmother or her mother. Her favor-
ite teacher was her older brother, Albert, who was attending
Dartmouth College during the time when Mary was of ele-
mentary age. Later she went for a while to a private school near
268 The Church A cross the Street
From the outset Mary had personality. She was independ-
ent and willful like her father, and sensitive and adorable
like her mother. When first her father expounded to her the
doctrine of eternal damnation and predestination, Mary's
distaste of the idea was so great that it gave her a fever. Only
her mother's tender assurance that God was wholly love healed
her nerves. When her grandmother told her the story of how
Daniel prayed three times a day, Mary determined to do even
better. She prayed seven times a day, chalking up her score on
the wall of the woodshed.
Mary Baker Glover the Bride
Next it was Mary Baker Glover. When Mary was nine-
teen a romantic lover appeared a handsome, dark-eyed friend
of the family who was starting out in the building trade in the
South. Two years after their meeting, Mr. Glover carried his
delicate and supremely happy bride away with him to Charles-
ton, South Carolina. The two were passionately in love and
the next months were perhaps the happiest in all Mary's long
Only six months later, while on a business trip in Wil-
mington, Mr. Glover was suddenly taken with yellow fever
and died. There was nothing for the bereft widow to do but to
return to her New Hampshire home and there await the
arrival of her expected child. When the child finally was given
her, however, Mary was unable to take care of him and he grew
up in the home of a friend. Financially, Mary had no resources.
The difficult birth-had left her with a spinal ailment and she
was more of an invalid than before.
Mary Baker Patterson the Dentist's Wife
Next after nine years of loneliness without an abiding
home, the heroine of our story became Mrs. Mary Baker Pat-
terson.- Her Prince Charming was a large and handsome man
MARY BAKER EDDY 269
who was adept at setting feminine hearts fluttering wherever
he was. With his masterful physical strength and gallantry he
captivated the fragile young widow. She with her delicate com-
plexion and charming manners won his love over all other
"At last/' thought Mary, "I can have a home again and
my son George can return and live with us." But Dr. Patterson
seems to have had more art with the ladies than with his dental
practice. He seems never to have been able adequately to sup-
port his invalid wife. To add to their troubles, Dr. Patterson
enlisted in the Union Army and was taken prisoner. For
several years the two had no way of communicating. Mrs. Pat-
terson was again left dependent on her relatives, and the hope
of having her son with her was once more frustrated. The
family who had taken him soon moved to Minnesota. For years
his mother neither saw him nor heard from him.
Mary Baker Patterson tried living with her sister, Mrs.
Tilton. Hers was a large and comfortable home and finances
were not a consideration. But Mrs. Tilton had settled down
satisfied to live according to the accepted New England ideals
of the past. Mary's face was turned toward the future. Hers was
an ambitious, experimental mind, and she was not afraid to be
Once in her sister's home, when an evening party of
guests were discussing slavery, Mary had expressed a view con-
trary to that of most of her sister's friends. Mrs. Tilton in
protest interrupted. "Mary, do you dare to say that in my
house?" "I dare to speak what I believe in any house," said
Later Mrs. Tilton even offered to build on her estate a
cottage for her sister where she might live in comfort the rest
of her life. But there was one proviso: she must cease to talk
with her friends about her new theories of religion and health,
and she must go to the Tiltons' church. To this, Mary gave a
quick and spirited response. She could not give up her religion
for any one. So the Tilton door was closed upon her.
Mary Baker Patterson might almost as well have been an
outright widow. She was past forty years old, without an ade-
270 The Church Across the Street
quate income and with but a small circle of friends. Not one
of them could have imagined then that in twenty years she was
to be perhaps the most famous American woman of her time.
Phineas Quimby the Healer
What was it that had been happening to this spirited in-
valid that so annoyed her sister and had made it impossible for
her and her husband to be congenial? To understand the
powerful effect that her new ideas had upon her we must live
imaginatively in the atmosphere of the latter half of the nine-
teenth century in America. At that time the science of medi-
cine was in its babyhood and the science of mental hygiene was
even less developed. It was like an embryo just beginning to
stir in the womb of American thought.
The forerunner of the science of mental hygiene went by
various names: animal magnetism, hypnotism, mesmerism and
spiritualism. Hundreds of books and pamphlets were being
circulated telling of the wonders of the power of mind over
matter. Quack medicines were everywhere advertised for
which exaggerated claims were made. Mesmerists were travel-
ing about the country demonstrating their powers. To some,
mesmerism seemed a return to witchcraft and was frightening.
To other braver (or perhaps more naive souls) it held out the
great hope of relief from sickness and pain.
Mary Baker Patterson, instead of gaining strength
through the years, had been steadily losing ground. She had
tried doctors wherever she had lived. She had gone to spiritual-
ist seances and she had been experimented upon by a mes-
merist. But year by year she had to spend more time in bed,
until she became but a shadow of her former self.
At this juncture came excited rumors of the wonderful
cures performed by "Doctor" Phineas Quimby in Portland,
Maine, who was healing hundreds of sick people without any
kind of medicine. Mary listened and read everything that came
her way. In spite of her sister's violent objections, she finally
found a friend who would take her to Portland. She had to be
assisted up the stairs to the doctor's office in the International
MARY BAKER EDDY 27 1
The doctor met her with friendly understanding and
sympathy. He talked with her, telling her she was "held in
bondage by the opinion of her family and physicians," and that
"her animal spirit was reflecting its grief upon her body and
calling it spinal disease/* To add to his patient's confidence,
the doctor included some manipulation of her head and body
in his treatments.
Mary Baker Patterson's hope and faith were strong, and
she was rewarded. She came for treatments daily for a week,
and at the end of that time, she was so much improved that
without any one's help she climbed the one hundred and
eighty steps to the dome of the City Hall just to prove to herself
that she had been healed. The prayers of years seemed to be
answered. However, her healing was not permanent and she
soon suffered a relapse.
The Fall and "the Revelation"
In the meantime, Dr. Patterson had been released from
prison. When his wife returned to her home in Lynn, she said
she felt as much like a released prisoner as he did. The new
science, however, germinated slowly in her mind. Like an
exotic plant it required time before it became naturalized in
the soil of her own mind, until it became her conviction.
With the daily problem of adjusting herself to the hus-
band from whom she had been so long separated, she found it
difficult to retain her belief in the reality of Mind and Spirit in
contrast to the error of bodily pain and sickness. She began
relapsing toward her old condition.
Then it was an accident that brought her "the revelation."
One evening in February 1866, she was returning with friends
from a party when she fell on the ice and struck her head and
back such a blow that she was left unconscious. She was carried
into the home of a friend. A physician was called. As she gradu-
ally recovered partial consciousness, she became the victim of
spasms and the doctor feared she might never be able to walk
On the third day after the accident when she was alone
272 The Church Across the Street
on her bed, she had what later seemed to her to have been the
most important revelation of her life. The miracles recorded
in the Bible, which had before seemed supernatural, grew
divinely natural. All her pain seemed to evaporate. Love shone
down upon her. She thought she heard a voice say: "Daughter
arise!" At once she dressed and walked downstairs and greeted
her astonished friends.
That morning February 4, 1866, is held to be the most
important date in Christian Science history. For on that day,
Mary Baker Patterson discovered "Christian Science."
The Massachusetts Metaphysical College
After she secured a divorce from Dr. Patterson on the
grounds of infidelity, Mary assumed again the name of her first
husband. It was Mrs. Mary Baker Glover who spent the next
three years as a kind of itinerant boarder. During this period,
her major ambition was to write a book that would express the
revelation she had received. Yet she had to earn her own sup-
port in some way. First she began trying out her theories on
her sick friends. She gathered small groups about her in the
evenings and she instructed them in the new "science," as she
After four years of this healing, writing and informal
teaching, she went into a partnership with one of her abler
disciples, Richard Kennedy. He nailed a doctor's sign to a tree
in front of a house which they rented in the shoemakers' city
of Lynn. She had a professional card printed for herself which
Mary B. Glover
Before long Dr. Kennedy's waiting room was filled with
patients, and Mrs. Glover was having regular classes for the
instruction of those interested in the new "science." Later she
Portrait of Mary Baker Eddy. (The Bettmann Archive)
274 The Ch urch A cross the Street
started a school, which was chartered in 1881 as The Massa-
chusetts Metaphysical College.
Soon she was charging $300 for a course of twelve lectures
given during a period of three weeks' duration. Those who
completed the course were expected to become practitioners.
Unfortunately, the partnership with Dr. Kennedy lasted
but two years. Indeed, during the years that followed there
was a succession of gifted and magnetic personalities that fol-
lowed the teacher of moral "science" for a while but who later
went their own ways.
Mary Baker Eddy
Finally, in 1876, a new figure appeared in the drama of
Christian Science. A bachelor of forty-four years arrived from
Boston to become a student in the college. He was broad shoul-
dered, immaculate in his dress, modest, self-effacing. He had a
gentle temper and a quiet efficient way of going about his
work. Before long Asa Eddy became the favorite student.
Next he became Dr. Eddy, the star practitioner, and be-
fore a full year had passed he and the head of the college had
become man and wife. Being himself a plodder with little
imagination, he had no personal ambitions. It was his joy to
devote himself utterly to the forwarding of the cause of Chris-
tian Science. Mrs. Eddy needed just such a helper, for during
those years misunderstandings, jealousies, lawsuits piled one
on another. Asa Eddy was always the peacemaker and the de-
fender of his wife's activities. When he died, but five short
years after their marriage, Mrs. Eddy wrote of him: "This was
the perfect man."
Science and Health
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is the great
Christian Science textbook. During the thirty-five years that
elapsed between the time when the book first appeared until
MARY BAKER EDDY 275
Mrs. Eddy's death, it went through many editions. In spite of
the large sales, she was never complacent about what she had
achieved. Each prospect of a new edition was a challenge to her
to see if she could express more clearly or more fully the reve-
lation which she never doubted God had given her.
The importance of the book in Mrs. Eddy's mind is
shown by the instructions given in the Church Manual to each
new member. "The Bible, together with Science and Health
and other works by Mrs. Eddy, shall be his only textbooks for
self-instruction in Christian Science, and teaching and prac-
ticing of metaphysical healing." Consequently every good
Christian Scientist owns a copy of Science and Health and
reads from it daily.
The practice of connecting Science and Health always
with the Bible is due to Mrs. Eddy's conviction that the sole
authority for her teachings came from the Bible. In more than
2,800 Christian Science churches throughout the world, twice
each week passages are read from the Bible and from Science
and Health alternately in a manner that makes clear that Mrs.
Eddy's teachings are intended to explain certain passages from
the Bible. In her reverence for the Bible, Mrs. Eddy was true
to the Protestant tradition that the Bible is "the sole rule of
faith and practice."
The Christian Science Monitor
One of the most original and successful ventures which
Mrs. Eddy initiated was the publication of a Christian daily
newspaper. The daily newspapers were unavoidable, yet they
contained much news about the sordid affairs of the world, the
reading of which, she felt, was dangerous to moral health. She,
therefore, conceived the idea of a newspaper that would pre-
sent truthfully only those parts of the news that were fit to
print. That Mrs. Eddy was able to launch a profitable and
useful enterprise of this sort when she was in her eighties is
indeed a monument of which Christian Scientists may be
proud. Today The Christian Science Monitor is widely read
276 The Church Across the Street
and valued far outside Christian Science circles. It is especially
famous for the accuracy and richness of its international news
and for the broadmindedness and intelligence of its editorial
Up to almost the very end of her long life of eighty-nine
years, Mary Baker Eddy kept her hand on the helm of Chris-
tian Science. The profits from her teaching and royalties had
grown very large, but she personally supervised their invest-
ment. Even at the age of eighty-six, when her mental compe-
tence was questioned in the famous "Next Friends" suit, she
was able to satisfy the court and attorneys on both sides, as
well as a group of psychiatrists, that she was still quite able to
handle her own affairs.
The Important Things in Christian Science
To most people the name "Christian Science" means
faith healing. Such an assumption is to miss a vital point. Mrs.
Eddy refused to speak of herself as performing cures. She in-
sisted that the healing that resulted from her ministrations
came not because she had performed something miraculous.,
The healing she regarded as coming through a natural process.
What the practitioner does is to help the individual who is sick
to accept that which is a true principle of life and to act ac-
cordingly. Just as truly as Isaac Newton believed he had dis-
covered a law of the physical universe, Mary Baker Eddy be-
lieved she had discovered a spiritual law or principle.
"Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the
principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The rule is
already established, and it is our task to work out the solution."
These words are to be found in the chapter on prayer in
Science and Health. Let us not forget that Mary Baker Eddy
believed that she had found a "Science" in the spiritual world,
and that to understand and act on that "Science" would mean
health. We may disagree with the findings of her "Science,"
but we should acknowledge the significance of her assumption
that there is a "Science" of the spiritual life.
MARY BAKER EDDY 277
And what is the principle which Mary Baker Eddy be-
lieved she found? Briefly it is this: Only the spiritual is real
while all that is material and mortal is an illusion. The spirit-
ual is God. God is Mind. God is Love. God is all that is real.
Evil, sickness, death are illusions. They are the product of our
erring mortal minds.
"Become conscious for a single moment that life and in-
telligence are purely spiritual neither in nor of matter and
the body will then utter no complaints/' (Science and Health)
Even the Newtonian law of gravitation the scientists have
now revised, yet they still say there is truth in what Newton
discovered. May we not take a similar attitude toward the prin-
ciple which Mary Baker Eddy so fervently set forth? Many of
us can not today accept her principle completely, yet we should
find a truer way to state the core of truth for which she
searched. Instead of looking for either our spiritual or physical
salvation by pulling down to earth some supernatural power
to help us, let us also search for the true and natural principles
that are inherent in the full and noble living of life. Let us
study the Science of spiritual health.
The Church of Christ, Scientist
The Church of Christ, Scientist, was organized in Boston
in 1879 with twenty-six members. This congregation quickly
grew. It met in private homes or in rented property. Mrs. Eddy
herself was its preacher. In 1894, the first church building was
erected. Although its auditorium held 1,100 people, it soon
proved to be too small.
Consequently, in 1906 a beautiful white-domed, 2-mil-
lion-dollar annex was built in which 5,000 people could gather.
This is called the Extension of the Mother Church. At the
time of the dedication of this building 30,000 Christian Scien-
tists from almost every large city in the English-speaking world
gathered to celebrate Communion in six successive services.
278 The Church Across the Street
Mrs. Eddy's Strict Control
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massa-
chusetts The Mother Church is administered by a self-
perpetuating Board of Directors. All other Christian Science
churches are branches of this church. They have their own
form of government, but are organized in accordance with the
manual of the Mother Church. The by-laws contained in this
manual were written by Mrs. Eddy herself. According to the
terms of the deed by which she gave the land for the church,
it is declared that no services shall ever be held there "which
shall not be in strict harmony with the doctrines and practice
of Christian Science as taught and explained by Mary Baker
Eddy in the seventy-first edition of her book entitled Science
and Health. . . ."
This manual and this trust deed perpetuate the form of
government which Mrs. Eddy established when she was the
active head of the Christian Science movement. Consequently,
into whatever Christian Science service you may go on a Sun-
day morning, you will hear readings from the Bible inter-
spersed with readings from Science and Health. The subjects
for the readings, which are designated Lesson-Sermons, for
each Sunday were all worked out by Mrs. Eddy and the Sunday
services will be identical in whatever place one attends, as far
as the Lesson-Sermon is concerned. Hymns, solos, Scriptural
readings and benedictions are not the same. Only the Lesson-
Sermon and closing readings are identical.
The Mid-Week Gatherings
In the middle of the week Christian Scientists gather for
a testimony meeting, at which time they tell publicly of cures
they have experienced or seen accomplished through the prac-
tice of Christian Science. In addition to this meeting, every
good Christian Scientist spends time each day in private study
of the Lesson-Sermon.
Four buildings make up the world headquarters of the Christian
Science Church in Boston, Massachusetts. At the left is the admin-
istration building; behind it, the Christian Science Publishing
House; in the center is the extension of the original edifice, with
its 224-foot-high dome; and to the right, with its 124-foot-high
tower, is the original First Church of Christ, Scientist. The two
churches together are called the Mother Church. (Ewing Galloway)
280 The Church Across the Street
Although In theory each person is supposed to be able to
maintain his health, or recover from illness, by the exercise of
his understanding of Christian Science, Christian Scientists
may employ more experienced Christian Scientists, called
practitioners, to help them. These practitioners, who devote
full time to the healing work, of course receive fees for their
services. The treatment they give can be administered either
to the patient personally, or even by the practitioner at a dis-
tance. Christian Science teaches that injuries and disease are
equally curable by the application of its rules. Although there
is no denying that many sick persons have been made well by
the exercise of faith, especially^ religious faith, yet it is well to
remember that Christian Science has no monopoly of such
healing. It was practiced in modified form by the ancient
Greeks, and is taught today by the "Immanuel Movement" in
the Episcopal Church and in the Roman Catholic Church.
The shrines of St. Anne de Beaupre and Lourdes, with their
piles of discarded braces and crutches, tell their own stories.
The work of Christian Science churches is supported by
individual contributions. The per capita tax of the Mother
Church amounts to at least $1 .00 per member per year. Church
buildings are seldom built, and never dedicated, until the
money to pay for them is already in hand. Profits from the
publishing house, revenue from endowment, and individual
gifts finance denominational expenses.
How Many Christian Scientists Today?
It is difficult to get accurate and up-to-date figures as to
the number of Christian Scientists in the country since the
Church publishes no figures. It is, however, actively engaged
MARY BAKER EDDY 28 1
in promotional efforts, using reading rooms open to the public
and well stocked with Scientist literature in almost every com-
munity where there is a church. Christian Scientists also broad-
cast regularly over many radio stations. There are no mission-
aries in the traditional sense, but trained lecturers often speak
to the public on Christian Science. So it seems probable that
the Church is still growing. There are at least 2,000 churches
and 300,000 members in the United States alone.
Much more could be said about this interesting Church,
and also about its founder. Few persons who have achieved
greatness have done it in a more incredible fashion than Mrs.
Eddy. Despite personal weaknesses, of which she undoubtedly
had her share, and the flaws which those outside the ranks of
Christian Science feel there are in that religion, the doctrine
which she taught has emphasized certain vital truths.
Medical Science and Christian Science
The issue that medical science raises with Christian
Science may be stated in this way: whether or not our material
bodies are in a metaphysical sense real or no, the medical
doctor insists that in dealing with organic injuries or damaged
tissues he must at least deal with the physical causes and with*
the physical means of cure. Not to do so, he regards as danger-
ous to health. The extraordinary progress made by such scien-
tific procedures, even since the time when Mary Baker Eddy
lived, has yielded too much release for mankind from pain and
sorrow to be disregarded.
On the other hand, medical science, by this very process
of scientific investigation, has discovered many and surprising
evidences of the influence of the mind or of spiritual attitudes
on health. To the medical man it is no longer a choice of an
either/or either dealing with the body or with the spirit,
either the use of physical means or the use of psychical means.
Up-to-date doctors are seeking a better understanding of both
the physical and mental causes and means of cure of disease.
To some who are outside the Christian Science fold, it
282 The Church Across the Street
would seem that if they are to be true to that word "Science''
which Mrs. Eddy had the insight to put into the name of the
Church she founded, they also must Insist on freedom to retain
and to encourage just such a determination to search and such
a readiness to change as characterized the spirit of the remark-
able leader we have been studying.
. The United Church of Canada
The notion that one's own Church has a monopoly of the truth as
it is in Jesus is a relic of intellectual childhood.
If we love and pray and work for the same things, let us love and
pray and work together.
REV. S. DWIGHT CHOWN
The United Church of Canada
The Realization of a Long-Cherished Dream
There are few differences to attract one's attention as the
border separating the United States and Canada is crossed;
indeed, were it not for the custom houses and their uniformed
officials the traveler might well be aware of no change at all.
The people look and dress alike, and the language, except in
French Canada, is the same. The countryside could as well be
on one side of the border as on the other.
Yet each of the two nations takes pride in its uniqueness.
Each has its own traditions, its own holidays and its own na-
tional character. Canadians love the maple leaf, their country's
emblem, as much as the Scots do the thistle. One of the in-
stitutions in which many Canadians take special pride is the
United Church of Canada. Churches of this denomination
will be found in every city, and few villages are so small as to
be without at least one. Yet the perceptive traveler will notice
that there is a much smaller number of Presbyterian churches
and no Methodist and Congregational churches at all. Why
284 The Church Across the Street
"The Grand Old Man"
The story behind the United Church of Canada is an in-
teresting one, full of drama and the product of the devoted
labors of many people. One of the most influential of its pio-
neers was the Very Rev. George C. Pidgeon, long affectionately
known by fellow United Churchmen as "the grand old man"
of their church. Born in Maria Township of Quebec on March
2, 1872, he graduated from the Presbyterian College of Mon-
treal in 1894, and in 1905, was awarded a Doctor of Divinity
degree by his alma mater. Then he served as a missionary in
some of the rural areas in Quebec and New Brunswick for a
few years, and finally had a church in Toronto. In 1909 he
joined the faculty of Westminster Hall, a Presbyterian school
in Vancouver. Later he served overseas in World War I with
the YMCA, and afterwards as minister of another Presbyterian
church in Toronto. We shall return to him later.
But the United Church is also greatly in debt to Dr.
Dwight Chown, long the General Superintendent of the
Methodist Church in Canada, and to Dr. William T. Gunn,
who served the Canadian Congregational is ts as Secretary-
Treasurer from 1906 until the union of the three denomina-
tions was finally consummated in 1925. Dr. Gunn later became
the third Moderator of the United Church, and it is said,
literally wore himself out in its service, dying in 1930.
Early Church Unions
Where does the story of the United Church of Canada
begin? There were movements aimed at reunion of divided
churches very early in Canadian history. One of the more
interesting, and also one of the earliest, concerned two minus-
cule branches of Presbyterianism in Nova Scotia in the first
years of the nineteenth century. These were the Burghers and
the Anti-Burghers, who had split in Scotland over an oath
required of the citizens ("Burghers") of certain cities. These
hardy Highlanders were required to swear, "Here I protest
Portrait of the Very Rev. George C. Pidgeon. (Board of Informa-
tion and Stewardship, United Church of Canada)
286 The Church A cross the Street
before God, and your Lordships, that I profess and allow with
all my heart, the true religion presently professed within this
realm, and authorized by the laws thereof: I shall abide there-
at, and defend the same to my life's end; renouncing the
Roman religion called 'Papistry/ "* Some of them demurred
because they thought it involved a recognition of the Estab-
lished Church, which they opposed, so they became Anti-
Burghers. Others, who felt no such recognition was involved,
became the Burghers. That these differences should have been
exported to Canada seems ridiculous to us now, and apparent-
ly the two groups came to a like conclusion after a few years,
since reunion came in 1817.
A division of another sort involved the Methodists. Cana-
dian Methodism sprang from two roots: some churches were
founded by missionaries from the United States and others by
British missionaries ("Wesleyans"). The former had bishops,
while the latter adopted a presbyterian form of government.
The two merged in 1829, but there were dissenters who be-
lieved so strongly in government by bishops that they took the
matter to the courts and even, it is said, occasionally resorted
to violence. They lost their case, but as time went on other
Methodist groups arose and final reunion did not occur until
Presbyterianism had a rather similar history, with nine
unions required to ultimately create a single denomination in
1875. Congregationalism fared better, but there were divisions
here also, and they did not become a single church until 1907.
In many ways the religious history of Canada is like that
of the United States. As its great west and north were settled,
missionaries followed the pioneers and preaching stations were
1 This, and much of the other material in this chapter is taken from
George C. Pidgeon, The United Church of Canada The Story of Union
(Toronto, Ryerson Press, 1950) . The author is also indebted to S. D. Chown,
The Story of Church Union in Canada.
THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA 287
established, often visited only occasionally, for rounds had to
be made on foot or horseback and there were long distances to
be covered. Canada is, indeed, larger than the United States.
These missionaries were sent out by all denominations, but
the most active were the Methodist, Presbyterian and Gon-
gregationalist. Measured in terms of memberships, the first
two of the three were the most successful. At the time of union
in 1925 the Methodists claimed 407,261 members, the Pres-
byterians 369,939 and the Congregationalists 12,762. Many
Anglican and Baptist churches were also founded, but since
both these denominations preferred to keep their own identity
they are not considered here. Often two or more of these mis-
sionaries, or circuit riders as they were frequently called, found
themselves attempting to start churches in a village only big
enough for one, while at the same time there were regions not
being reached at all for lack of workers. It was not rare to find
small villages with several churches but lacking the resources
to support even one adequately. The story is told of a Douk-
hobor 2 who, visiting a prairie town and seeing churches on the
four corners of the public square, asked, pointing in succession
to each of the four, "Is that a Jesus church?' 7 On being assured
that it was, he queried simply, "Why four?" And thus it came
to seem to many Canadians.
As long ago as 1875, a committee was appointed by the
Presbyterians to investigate the possibilities of union with
other churches, and in 1885 the Montreal conference of the
Methodist Church appointed a similar committee, with the
purpose: "That the consolidation of the forces of our common
Protestantism may be effected for more economical and ex-
tended prosecution of the work of God among the people
residing in those parts of the Dominion where the denomina-
tions there represented are not able to support the minister
2 The Doukhobors are a small religious sect founded about 1750 in Rus-
sia. They strongly resemble the Quakers in belief, emphasizing the primacy of
love and the equality of all men, and opposing war. Because of their objection
to conscription and for other reasons, they were bitterly persecuted in Russia
in 1899, and 7,500 of them emigrated to Canada where they have prospered.
They are partly communal in practice.
288 The Church Across the Street
"Far Larger Union"
Nothing came of this, but there were others who foresaw
eventual union, among them Dr. John Cook, first Moderator
of the then freshly merged Presbyterian Church in Canada.
In 1875 he said, 'Tar larger union is, I trust, in store for the
churches of Christ even in Canada than we effect this day/'
Many years were to pass before his prophecy was to materialize,
and much of the most unrelenting opposition came from with-
in his own Church. Some of this opposition persists even to
the present day, for about 30 per cent of Canadian Presbyte-
rians chose to remain outside the United Church and there are
still some 800,000 Presbyterian members or adherents who
maintain their religious separateness.
It seems likely that many of the 70 per cent who did
merge would probably not have done so but for the untiring
labor and great influence of Dr. George Pidgeon who stood
stoutly for union throughout the twenty years before 1925,
while the final decision remained in doubt. During these criti-
cal years, when the question of whether to merge or not to
merge was being intensely and hotly debated, he was minister
of the great Bloor Street Presbyterian Church of Toronto,
from the pulpit of which his vigorous voice for union was often
heard. His brother, Dr. Leslie Pidgeon, was also an ardent
unionist and urged union from the pulpits of some important
Presbyterian churches. The great services of Dr. George Pid-
geon in the cause of merger were recognized by the United
Church of Canada when they elected him their first Mode-
Opposition to union was at first small, and it was always
chiefly from Presbyterians. It finally reached the point where
opponents even went from door to door circulating anti-union
literature and soliciting votes for their cause. Some absurd
claims were made, such as that the Presbyterian form of gov-
The United Church House, Toronto, Canada. (Board of Informa-
tion and Stewardship, United Church of Canada, Photo by Herb
Nott and Co v Ltd.) ,
290 The Church Across the Street
ernment originated with the Israelites in Egypt and was thus
God-given and not to be abandoned, and that the Methodist
Church was "an apostate church." Methodists were accused of
not believing in the atoning death of Christ, or in his infalli-
bility, and that he did not "die for sinners." But the three
churches finally voted by large majorities for merger, and on*
June 10, 1925, in the great Arena in Toronto, almost 7,000
people from all over Canada assembled to celebrate the forma-
tion of a United Church of Canada.
Organization and Beliefs
The United Church is a far-flung Church, with some
3,000 "pastoral charges" and more than 6,000 local churches.
These are spread all over Canada; some are so remote that
they must even be reached by boat or plane. Its present mem-
bership is about 1 million, which makes it the second largest
Church in Canada, exceeded only by the Roman Catholic,
which owes its predominance chiefly to the great number of
Catholics in Quebec, settled originally by French Catholics.
Since the United Church had only about 600,000 members in
1925, the year of formation, its growth has been considerable
indeed at a higher rate than that of the general population;
it is the only Protestant Church of which this can be said. The
total amount of money for all purposes raised in 1960 was
In organization, the United Church is presbyterian, with
a system of "courts" extending from the Session of the local
congregation through the Presbytery, the Annual Conference,
THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA 291
and the General Council. Thus, it has inherited characteristics
from each of the founding churches. The Annual Conference,
which ordains and "settles" ministers, came from Methodism,
and the General Council was originally the Congregational
name for its highest "court." Ministers are chosen by the local
In belief, the United Church is strongly evangelical. Its
creed was agreed upon only after prolonged consideration by
representatives of the three founding churches; each group
conceded something. Presbyterians gave up some of their long-
cherished beliefs as set forth in the Westminster Confession,
thus leading some opponents of union to say that the door was
"opened wide to every error." Congregationalists yielded on
their traditional objection to requiring any creed. The Meth-
odists, for their part, agreed to a creed emphasizing Divine
Sovereignty rather more than it was stressed by John Wesley.
The pattern of worship of the United Church is also little
different from that of the merged churches, and is based on a
Book of Common Order.
Schools and Colleges
Like other denominations, the United Church maintains
a number of schools and universities, as well as eight theologi-
cal colleges. Among them are Victoria University in Toronto;
Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick;
United College in Winnipeg; and Ontario Ladies College in
Whitby, Ontario. A recent and interesting venture was the
founding, in cooperation with the Jesuits and the Anglicans,
of Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. Here (as is
also done in some other Canadian universities) each of the
cooperating churches will have its own college; that of the
United Church will be known as Huntington College.
292 The Church Across the Street
"For The Common Good"
On the domestic scene, the church maintains a number
o hospitals, several institutions for the treatment of alcohol-
ism and seventeen homes for the aged;- others are being built.
Work for the Indians of Canada is extensive, and 25,000 of
them are served by missionaries. Some of these are teachers,
nurses and doctors who staff schools and hospitals. Much work
of this kind is also done abroad, and the United Church sup-
ports schools and hospitals in Africa, India and elsewhere.
Nor are immigrants coming to Canada from other nations for-
gotten. These are helped in various ways to resettle and be-
come at home in the country of their adoption.
It is sometimes said that because people differ so much
and in so many ways no one Church can adequately meet their
needs. But Dr. Gunn, the former Congregationalist, could
write some years after the union, in answer to the question,
"Do we really enjoy the new mixed fellowship?" "Beyond all
expectations." The United Church of Canada proves that
merger is not only possible but that it works. It exemplifies the
great ideal attributed to Jesus by St. John "that they may all
be one/' Men are being helped to lead better lives in the four
corners of the earth.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy might. (Deut. 6:4, 5)
Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: . . . Thou shalt not
avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people,
but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord. (Lev.
Mother of All Churches
The seventieth year of our era has never been forgotten
by the Jews of the world. Beginning in April and lasting all
through the long hot summer months, the walls of the great
city of Jerusalem had been daily battered by the might of
Roman battalions. With each succeeding week, the people of
the city had been huddled into smaller and smaller quarters.
The outer walls of the city had long since been breached.
Thousands of homes had become heaps of rubble. Even the
walls of the holy temple had been broken down. The un-
circumcised Romans had destroyed the holy altars. Thousands
of Jerusalem's inhabitants had been killed. Others had died
of epidemics and famine. The hardy ones who still survived
wept over their dead. Because it was unlawful according to
ancient Jewish law, to bury the dead inside the city walls, there
were still intrepid spirits who were willing, under cover of
darkness, to risk carrying the bodies of their comrades outside
the city walls for their final disposal.
Thus on a dark night under the light of a thin crescent
294 The Church Across the Street
moon, four gaunt and ill-clad men carrying a coffin stole out
one of the city gates. As they walked down the rugged banks
toward the valley, they almost stumbled under their heavy
awkward load. Strangely enough they made their way directly
toward the tents of the sleeping Roman army.
Presently as they neared the enemy line, the men laid
down their coffin, and began talking to a sentinel. They asked
for an interview with the Roman general. As they talked, the
lid of the coffin was opened and, to the sentinel's great astonish-
ment, out jumped a man.
The truth was that the coffin had carried a secret envoy,
none other than a member of the Sanhedrin, Jochanan ben
Zakhai, the most respected rabbi in all the city.
Jochanan was granted the audience for which he asked,
and this was his message to the Roman general. He and his
fellow citizens well knew that their holy city had been success-
fully besieged. Even their holy temple had been destroyed.
But their faith in God and the Laws that Moses had given
them, which they had been teaching in their synagogues
these Jochanan was determined should not be destroyed. All
that Jochanan asked was that he be allowed to start a school
in Jabne on the coast, to which Jewish young men could go
and be taught the Law, and where scholars and teachers might
Probably to the Roman general it seemed an inconse-
quential favor to grant; yet what he actually did was to make
it possible for the Jews to retain their religion and their soli-
darity as a people even though they no longer had a temple
and were scattered throughout the known world.
The Growth of Rabbinical Schools
This rabbinical school in Jabne, long directed by Jocha-
nan ben Zakhai himself, became a famous center of learning
and authority from which scholars were sent forth to every
corner of the Roman empire to establish other schools. Finally
such schools were so plentiful that it became an accepted re-
quirement that every Jewish boy should attend some school.
This was no small achievement since there were approxi-
mately 8 million Jews distributed in every country in Africa,
Europe and Asia. It is estimated that every tenth subject of
the Roman Empire was a Jew,
These rabbinical schools performed a significant func-
tion during the first few centuries of our Common Era. Not
only did they help to keep the Jewish people intelligent re-
garding their religious heritage, but they also preserved the
traditions in written form. These rabbinical scholars collected
a large mass of oral laws and teachings that had long been cur-
rent and that had become almost as binding upon the devout
Jew as was the Torah or Law of Moses. This set of volumes of
laws, wisdom and lore, which was finally completed about the
year 500, is called the Talmud.
Importance of Jews in Christian Movement
In its beginnings Christianity was a Jewish sect. Its new
message was preached and the movement was carried forward
largely by Jews. Most of the early churches flourished where
there were large Jewish settlements and their meeting places
were synagogues. In a very real sense, therefore, the synagogue
is the mother of all Christian churches. It was not until the
third century that any large numbers of pagans joined the
The Wall of Separation
The Jews who did not join the movement and who be-
came wanderers throughout Europe and Asia were faced with
a profound conflict. With their country and temple gone, the
outward grandeur of their ancient culture had been destroyed.
The rabbinical schools and synagogues were all that were left
to keep reverence and love of the Torah alive. The Jews knew
in their inmost hearts that they had a treasure which the world
296 The Church Across the Street
should not lose. Their greatest prophets had taught a truly
monotheistic faith and had called them to the stern virtues of
justice and- piety and humbleness before God. As long as the
Jews retreated into communities exclusively Jewish, they
could maintain their special religious customs and ceremonies.
Although segregated, they went in and out of the Christian
world as artisans, farmers and-traders, but they had almost no
natural social part in the community life.
In the meantime, when Christianity became a political
power, the wall which was at first a voluntary form of protec-
tion, became a wall of exclusion. Antagonism on both sides of
the wall grew. To Jewish eyes, the Christians belittled the Law
even though they included it in the Christian Bible. To Jewish
minds, Christians renounced monotheism by their worship of
a second God, eternal and co-equal with the Creator. And fi-
nally, Christians proclaimed a gospel that condemned the Jews
as a people for the death of the Savior of the world. In spite of
their Jewish Christ, Christians fostered hatred toward Jews,
who refused to accept Christianity. So the wall of separation
between Christians and Jews in many countries became a wall
of mutual hatred.
The Jewish-Christian Dilemma
Throughout history until the present day, wherever Jews
have been treated with tolerance and friendliness by other
groups, and where the Jews have been accepted and under-
stood, they have usually responded with equal tolerance, un-
derstanding and friendliness. In such communities the walls
of separation seem slowly to disintegrate. Jews and Christians
intermarry. In some places the two groups are now beginning
to work together toward ways of fusing the greatest common
values in the two traditions, and hand-in-hand they are seeking
to develop a richer common religious culture that will be
adapted to a scientific age.
Usually, however, when Jews have abandoned their
special Jewish religion or have definitely entered the Christian
ranks, their distinctiveness as Jews has been soon lost. This to
many seems tragic. If the Jewish people as a distinct people
with a distinctive religion should be lost, would the values of
Moses and the prophets also be forgotten? Or might the free-
ing of this great Jewish heritage from its national roots release
it to flower into a higher and more universal monotheism?
On the other hand, if the glorious monotheistic faith of
the prophets is to be preserved as a matter of heritage rather
than of conviction, is not the real glory of a universal faith
destroyed? By keeping his religious culture for himself, may
not the Jew lose the very treasure he most cherishes? This was,
and still is, the outstanding Jewish dilemma. Christians, on
the other side of the wall of separation, should also realize that
their present social and religious attitudes toward Jews are
serving as the foundation of this dilemma.
Who Are the Jews?
It is often assumed that the Jews are all one race. This is
a mistake. In fact in Palestine in Bible times the Jews were a
combination of different peoples and nationalities. For two
thousand years the Jews have been living in practically every
country in Europe and in the Western Hemisphere, and natu-
rally they have become a part of the people among whom they
Large groups of Jews in America have no institutional
religious ties. To these, religion is a personal matter, not a
national characteristic. Many have grown discontented with
the traditionalism of many Christian denominations as well as
with the content of religious instruction offered their children
in Jewish synagogues. Yet often such Jews, in their daily lives,
follow the teachings of prophetic Judaism. They are active in
social movements and concerned for world peace. They find
themselves religiously neither Jews nor Christians. Often they
are troubled to know just what to call themselves.
298 The Church Across the Street
Types of Adherents to Judaism
Those Jews who are followers of Judaism differ among
themselves just as radically as do the different Christian sects.
In general, there are on the one hand the Orthodox Jews, who
retain the religion of their fathers very much as it was at the
beginning of the present era. They observe the old Mosaic
laws and use the Hebrew tongue in all their services. On the
other hand, there are the Reform Jewish congregations that
correspond to the more liberal denominations among Chris-
tians. Although honoring the heritage so remarkably handed
down in the Old Testament, they do not feel bound to the
past. They are continually creating new expressions for re-
ligious sentiments that have a modern appeal. In between
these two groups, are the Conservative Jews. These accept the
results of Biblical scholarship, yet believe in preserving the
traditional forms of worship.
As with all ancient religions, Judaism has many holy days
and festivals. Although changing living conditions have
brought about some modifications, yet these holy days are still
of high importance. The first ten days of the Jewish New
Year, which come in the fall, bring the most solemn of all
Jewish holidays. Jews who rarely attend divine service will be
in their synagogues on New Year's Day. It is called the Day of
Judgment, for on this day the individual stands before God,
examines his deeds, prays in penite.nce and solemnly resolves
to be more faithful. The entire tenth day, the Day of Atone-
ment, is spent in fasting and prayer in the synagogue. At the
final blowing of the ram's horn at sundown, the people return
to their homes with a sense of forgiveness and new resolves
for the year to come.
The other major holidays that are commonly observed
are in commemoration of historical events. Originally they
were largely seasonal holidays, related to similar holidays ob-
The first historical representation of the Menorah, the holy can-
delabrum of the Jewish temple, appears on a bronze coin from the
reign of Antigonus Mattathias (40-37 E.G.). On one side of the coin
are four trees, on the other is the Menorah with its seven candle-
sticks symbolizing the seven days of creation, seven continents and
seven planets. (The Jewish Museum, New York, N.Y., Frank J.
300 The Church Across the Street
served in all lands. The Passover, for instance, is meant to
commemorate the freeing of Jewish serfs from Egyptian
bondage. Originally it was a spring festival related to a similar
spring festival in the land of its origin. Succoth, the Eeast of
the Tabernacles, meant to commemorate developments that
followed release from Egyptian serfdom, was originally a har-
vest festival of thanksgiving for God's bounty in the form of
Hanukkah, which corresponds in time to Christmas, is
meant to commemorate the freeing of the Jews from the Syri-
an-Greeks by Judas Maccabeus in 165 B.C. It commemorates
the successful end of the earliest known struggle for religious
liberty. Originally it had the same ancient origin as the Christ-
mas holiday. Both Hanukkah afid Christmas are meant to com-
memorate historical events. Both, however, are festivals of
light and owe their origin to ancient annual celebrations that
greeted the lengthening day with the end of the winter solstice.
The Jewish Sabbath
With the truly orthodox, the Sabbath is a most solemn
religious occasion. No food may be prepared, no money or tool
may be handled, no weight may be carried, no journey, not
even a long walk, may be taken. The children, of course, may
play no games that involve any objects that need to be carried
or hurled. The difficulty of observing a Sabbath of this kind
under modern conditions may be one of the reasons for the
reduction in the numbers of Orthodox Jews. Every male over
thirteen is expected to spend the day in religious reading and
contemplation. Modern Orthodox Jews vary in the degree of
their observance. Most of the members of Conservative con-
gregations observe the day with prayer but perform necessary
The most prized treasure in any synagogue is its copy of
the Torah, or The Five Books of Moses. This is written by
hand in Hebrew on a parchment scroll that is rolled about two
upright sticks, usually overlaid with silver and elaborately
carved and ornamented. This scroll is kept in an ark which
also is artistically carved and ornamented with Jewish sacred
symbols. Before the ark there hangs a sacred lamp whose flame,
never being allowed to go out, symbolizes the eternal.
In all Orthodox and Conservative synagogues and in
Reform congregations, this scroll is taken from the ark and
portions are read during the service.
Reform congregations conduct their services mainly in
English, and in many ways these are similar to those in
Protestant Christian churches. These services usually include
responsive readings, hymns and a sermon. In Orthodox and
Conservative congregations, the services are in Hebrew. The
men usually wear the traditional skull caps and prayer shawls.
The entire congregation participates in singing the hymns
and in reading the prayers, although no effort is made to read
in unison. There may or may not be a sermon. The prayer
book of the Conservative and Orthodox congregations is simi-
lar in form to the Roman Catholic Missal or prayer book, and
may have originally served, to some extent, as a model for it.
Jewish Schools in the United States
There are many Jewish religious schools in the United
States. Most of these are under the auspices of Orthodox or
Conservative congregations, and are usually conducted on
weekdays after public school hours. There are a few all-day
schools. These make no attempt to produce Jewish scholars,
but they do emphasize Jewish history and the Old Testament
and teach at least the rudiments of the Hebrew language. In
all Jewish religious schools special attention is given to ac-
quainting children with the ceremonies of the Jewish holy
days and festivals. As in many Christian Sunday Schools, so
much time is often devoted to acquainting children with the
heritage from ancient times, that little is left for dealing with
problems and interests that directly concern modern children.
302 The Church Across the Street
Nevertheless, the Jews have always had the highest regard
for learning and there have been many noted Jewish scholars,
among them Albert Einstein in science, and Justice Louis
Brandeis of the Supreme Court. In their honor the Jewish
people have established the Albert Einstein School of Medi-
cine and Brandeis University. And in Jerusalem they have also
founded the Hebrew University. Their humanitarian interests
have also been expressed in the establishment of numerous
hospitals of the highest standing. Such a one is the Mt. Sinai
Hospital in Baltimore. Colleges and hospitals alike are open
to those of all faiths.
The Bar-Mitzvah Ceremony
Those boys who continue faithfully in their Jewish
schools until they are approximately thirteen years of age, or
until graduation, are dedicated to the Jewish faith by means
of the Bar-Mitzvah ceremony. Although related to an older
ceremony, the Bar-Mitzvah, as it is now known, is of recent
development. It is held in the synagogue. The boy is called to
recite certain prayers and to give a talk and sometimes to read
from the Torah in Hebrew. The rabbi prays for him. At a
home party afterwards, the boy receives congratulatory gifts.
In recent years there has developed in some congregations a
somewhat similar ceremony for girls who have also completed
their studies in the Jewish school.
The Great Tragedy
Until World War II there were about 16 million Jews in
the world. Of these about 5i/ million now live in the United
States and almost 2 million in the new Jewish state of Israel.
During World War II the Jews of Europe were overtaken by
the greatest group tragedy in history. It is estimated that over
5i/ million were slaughtered or starved in Nazi concentration
camps. This, however, did not close the story of persecution,
for it has continued in less brutal form in much of eastern
Europe and even elsewhere. Tradition, extending back
through many centuries, dies hard.
A New State
Discrimination and cruelty toward Jews, especially in
Austria and France in the 1890s, were largely responsible for
the dream of Austrian journalist Theodore Herzl of a Jewish
state which should be a refuge for Jewish people from every-
where. This flowered in the Zionist movement, which had its
genesis in 1907. But the vision of a Jewish homeland is much
older than that. In the United States as early as 1825, it led a
wealthy and successful Jewish American, Mordecai M. Noah,
to buy Grand Island in the Niagara River as a haven for Jews
of the world. Appropriately enough, it was to be called "Ara-
rat." But this scheme never proved attractive and indeed there
have always been Jewish people who objected to the formation
of any kind of Jewish state. Nevertheless, the Zionist move-
ment culminated, in 1948, in the proclamation of the new
state of Israel, though the bitter fighting between Jews and
Arabs which preceded its establishment left a heritage of
hatred which threatens to long persist.
Despite this and other difficulties the Israelis have pro-
ceeded with energy and rare courage to build up their state.
A policy of unrestricted immigration has resulted in the ad-
mission of more than 1 million Jews from all parts of the
world, and there are plans to admit many more, even though
Israel's total area is but 7,993 square miles, much of its land is
arid, and its natural resources are limited.
How was it possible, one must ask, for Hitler to obtain
German consent to the massacre of so many human beings?
Obviously without general mass consent, such wholesale de-
304 The Church Across the Street
struction could not have been possible. Such a phenomenon
can be explained only if one assumes certain conditioning
factors already in the cultural life of Europe and especially of
Germany that encouraged such a response. Yet it is only fair to
add that Western Germany has paid reparations of millions of
dollars to Israel since its formation, and has thus attempted
to make partial amends for the crimes of its predecessor, the
Third Reich. Although the value of human lives can never be
measured in money, the indemnity from Germany has made
possible the establishment of industries and of shipping lines
which have given needed employment to many Jewish citizens
of the new state.
This terrific human destruction must be seen as a climax
of centuries of persecution of the Jewish people. Isolated in
ghettos, deprived of citizenship in many countries, lied about,
cheated, robbed, and made victims of the cruelest pogroms
the Jews have lived with tragedy from generation to genera-
It was in nominally Christian lands, for the most part,
that this long tale of sorrow became history. The Christian
peoples of Europe must plead guilty before the nations for the
major responsibility for this accumulation of crimes. Nor can
Christian America wash her hands of the guilt. Here, too,
have been Jew-baiting, anti-Semitic riots and even murder of
Jews simply because they were Jews. Such feelings of hate and
such acts of violence have a long history. Their roots are deep
There is one branch among these roots which it is espe-
cially important for Christians to discover; and strange as it
seems, this branch grew from the Old Story of Salvation. In
that great story the Jewish people were accused of having
killed the Son of God. Such an accusing attitude toward the
Jewish people is surely not a fitting part of the Christian
The following is a select list of readable books which may
be of interest to readers of this book who are not specialists in
the field of church history. Although those marked with an
asterisk are out of print, they are of special value and should
still be available in public libraries.
ASCH, SHOLEM. One Destiny: An Epistle to the Christians. New
York, Putnam's, 1945.
BAINTON, ROLAND, H. Here 1 Stand. Mentor, MT 310; New
American Library. (Life of Martin Luther.)
. Hunted Heretic: The Life and Death of Michael Serve-
tus. LR2; Boston, Beacon, 1960.
*BELLOC, HILAIRE. Cranmer, London, Cassell, 1931.
* BOOTH, EDWIN T. Martin Luther., Oak of Saxony. Round Table
Press, 193 L
* BOWIE,, WALTER RUSSELL. Men of Fire. New York, Harper's.
BRODIE, FAWN M. No Man Knows My History: The Life of
Joseph Smith. New York, Knopf, 1945.
*BRODRICK, JAMES. The Origin of the Jesuits. New York, Long-
*BUNYAN, JOHN. The Pilgrim's Progress and a Life of the Author.
(170 illustrations) . Philadelphia, Foster. (There are many
other editions in print, none so lavishly illustrated.)
*BURGESS, WILLIAM, H. Pastor of the Pilgrims: A Biography of
John Robinson. New York, Harcourt, 1920.
CASSARA, ERNEST. Hosea Ballou. Boston, Beacon Press, 1961.
*CHADWICK, JOHN WHITE. William Ellery Channing: Minister
of Religion. Boston, Houghton, 1903.
CHEETHAM, HENRY H. Unitarianism and Universalism, An Illus-
trated History. Boston, Beacon Press, 1962. (Illustrations by
GHOWN, S. D. The Story of Church Union in Canada. Toronto,
306 The Church Across the Street
CLARK, ELMER T. Small Sects in America. Nashville, Abingdon,
*COHON, SAMUEL S. What We Jews Believe. Cincinnati, Union
of American Hebrew Congregations, 193L
COLE, ALFRED S. Our Liberal Heritage. (Pamphlet.) Boston, De-
partment of Education, Unitarian Universalist Association.
EATON, JEANNETTE. Lone Journey. New York, Harcourt, 1944.
(Story of Roger Williams.)
EDWARDS, CECILE. Roger Williams, Defender of Freedom. Nash-
ville, Abingdon, 1957.
* ERNST, JAMES E. Roger Williams, the New England Firebrand.
New York, Macmillan, 1932.
FAHS, SOPHIA L. The Old Story of Salvation. Boston, Beacon,
FERM, VIRGILIUS, ed. Living Schools of Religion. Patterson, Little-
^FLEMING, SANDFORD. Children and Puritanism. New Haven,
*Fox, GEORGE. George Fox: An Autobiography. Ed., Rufus
Jones. Philadelphia, Ferris and Leach, 1904.
*FRITCHMAN, STEPHEN H. Men of Liberty. Boston, Beacon, 1944.
GARRISON, WINFRED H. American Religious Movement: A Brief
History of the Disciples of Christ. St. Louis, Bethany, 1945.
GOLDBERG, DAVID. Holidays for American Judaism. New York,
Bookman Associates, 1954.
GRAY, ELIZABETH JANET. Penn. New York, Viking, 1938.
HARKNESS, GEORGIA. John Calvin: The Man and His Ethics.
Nashville, Abingdon, Apex Books (date unknown) .
""HARRISON, ELSIE. Son to Susanna. Nashville, Abingdon, 1938.
(Life of Wesley.)
HAVILAND, VIRGINIA. William Penn, Founder and Friend. Nash-
ville, Abingdon, 1952.
HINCKLEY, GORDON B. What of the Mormons? (Including a short
history of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day
Saints.) Salt Lake City, Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-
day Saints, 5th ed., rev., 1954.
*HODGKIN, L. V. A Book of Quaker Saints. New York, Macmil-
*HUTCHINSON, PAUL. Men Who Made the Churches. Nashville,
* JONES, RUFUS. George Fox, Seeker and Friend. New York, Har-
*JOY, JAMES R. John Wesley's Awakening. Methodist Book Con-
KJELGAARD, JAMES A. The Coming of the Mormons. New York,
Random House, 1937.
LIFE MAGAZINE, eds. The World's Great Religions. New York,
Simon and Schuster, 1954.
*LYON, WILLIAM H. A Study of the Christian Sects. Boston,
MCCONNELL, FRANCIS J. John Wesley. Nashville, Abingdon,
*McGiFFERT jr ARTHUR C. Martin Luther: His Life and. Work.
New York, Century, 1911.
McNEER, MAY. Martin Luther. Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1953.
. John Wesley. Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1958.
*MEAD, FRANK S. See These Banners Go: The Story of the Prot-
estant Churches in America. Indianapolis, Bobbs- Merrill,
MOEHLMAN, CONRAD. The Christian-Jewish Tragedy. Rochester,
PARKED DAVID B. The Epic of Unitarianism. LR6; Boston,
*PIDGEON, GEORGE C. The United Church of Canada. Toronto,
*POLLARD, ALBERT F. Thomas Cranmer. New York, Putnam,
POWELL, LYMAN P. Mary Baker Eddy: Life Size Portrait. Rev.
Boston, Christian Science Publishing Society, 1950.
ROSTEN, LEO. A Guide to the Religions of America. New York,
Simon and Schuster, 1955.
SCHAUSS, HAYYIM. The Jewish Festivals: From Their Beginnings
to Our Day. Union of American Hebrew Congregations,
SCOTT, C. ANDERSON. Romanism and the Gospel. Philadelphia,
SCOTT, CLINTON LEE. The Universalist Church of America.
Boston, Universalist Historical Society, 1957.
SKINNER, CLARENCE R. and COLE, ALFRED S. Hell's Ramparts Fell:
The Biography of John Murray. Boston, Universalist Pub-
lishing House, 193L
308 The Church Across the Street
SPERRY, WILLARD L. Religion in America. New York, Macmillan,
^SPRINGER, FLETA CAMPBELL. According to the Flesh; The Story
of Mary Baker Eddy. New York, Coward, 1930.
* SWEET, WILLIAM WARREN. Religion in Colonial America. New
York, Serf bner's, 1942.
TARSHIS, ALLAN. Not by Power: The Story of the Growth of
Judaism. New York, Bookman, 1952.
Three Prophets of Religious Liberalism: Channing, Emerson,
Parker. LR12; Boston, Beacon Press, 1961.
WILBUR, EARL MORSE. A History of Unitarianism. Cambridge,
. Our Unitarian Heritage. Boston, Beacon, 1925.
*WILLCOCKS, M. P. Bunyan Calling: A Voice from the Seven-
teenth Century. London, Allen and Unwin, 1944.
*WILLISON, GEORGE F. Saints and Strangers. New York, Reynal
and Hitchcock, 1945.
Adam, 4-5, 9
Agassiz, Louis, 72
Albright College, 142
Alcott, Louisa May, 72
Aldersgate Street meeting, 198
America, 9, 135,270
American Baptist Convention, 167
American Board of Commissioners for
Foreign Missions, 142
American Unitarian Association, 70, 74
Amherst College, 142
Anabaptists, 149, 165
Anglican Church (see Church of Eng-
Animal magnetism, 270
Anthony, Susan B., 72
Apostles Creed, 88-89
Apostolic succession, 120
Archbishop of Canterbury, 120
Archbishop of Mainz, 16, 19, 21
Archbishop of Vienna, 60
Ark, in synagogue, 301
Armagh, Ireland, 228
Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury,
Aspeitia, 75, 84
Assize, Midsummer, 145-146
Augsburg Confession, 34-35
Augsburg Diet, 35, 58
Augustine, 4, 9
Augustinian Order, 19, 21
Babel, Tower of, 5
Ballou, Hosea, 219-224 .
Baptism, 94-95, 97, 122, 148-150
Baptism, by immersion, 166, 233-234
Baptism, infant, 148-150, 162, 165
Baptism, of the dead, 259, 262
Baptists, 51, 148-170,238
Baptists, American, 159-170
Baptists, government, 166-167
Baptists, number of, 167
Baptists, Negro, 166-167
Baptists, Northern, 166-167
Baptists, philanthropy, 169-170
Baptists, Southern, 166-167
Baptists, varieties of, 165
Barcelona, 79, 80
Barkwood, Lord, 146
Barton, Clara, 225
Basel, 39, 59
Baylor University, 170
Beloit College, 141
Benedict XIV, Pope, 90
Benedictine monks, 78, 79
Bethany College, 240
Bible, inerrancy of, 93, 126, 167-168
Bible, introduction into English
Bible, King James version, 110, 134
Bible, Luther's translation of, 27
Bible, Roman Catholic view of, 93
Bible, Tyndale's translation of, 109-110
Bible, Wycliffe's translation, 109
Biddle, John, 69-70
Birth control, Catholic view on, 91
Bishops, 90, 95, 119, 121-122
Bishops, coadjutor, 121-122
Bishops, Mormon, 262
Bishops, suffragan, 121-122
Blasphemy Act, 70
Bohler, Peter, 197-198
Boleyn, Ann, 105-111
The Church Across the Street
Book of Common Order, 291
Book of Common Prayer, 66, 113-114,
120, 123, 125-126
Boston University, 213
Brandeis, Justice Louis, 302
Brattle Street Congregational Church,
Bread (communion), 42-44, 95-96, 133
Brewster, William, 128
Brigham Young University, 264
Brown University, 170
Browne, Robert, 125-129
Bryan, William Jennings, 168
Bryant, William Cullen, 72
Bryn Mawr College, 190
Bull, papal, 24
Bunyan, John, 144-159
Butler University, 240
Calendar, Christian, 33
Calendar, in Eastern Orthodox
Church, 14, 33
Calvin, John, 37-47, 48, 50, 59-60, 62-
Cambridge University, 126
Campbell, Alexander, 228-242
Campbell, Alexander, translation of
New Testament, 239-240
Campbell, Thomas, 228-240
Campbell, Thomas, "Declaration and
Canaan, Land of, 6
Canon Law, Code of, 90-92
Capitol University, 36
Carey, William, 169
Carleton College, 141
Cartwright, Dr. Thomas, 125, 126, 128
Cathechism (Calvin's) , 42
Catechism, Smaller (Lutheran), 35
Cathedral of St. Peter, 16, 19, 93
Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, 124
Catherine of Aragon, 105, 107, 114
Catholic (definition), 88-89
Catholic University, 92
Cauvin, Jean (see John Calvin)
Channing, William Ellery, 65-66, 68-
Charles I, King, 135
Charles II, King, 145, 154
Charles V (Emperor), 25, 26, 58
Charleston, S.C., 32, 268
Chwon, Dwight, 284
Christ, second coming of, 7-8, 168, 247,
"Christian Association of Washing-
"Christian Baptist", 233, 240
Christian Church (see Disciples of
Christian Science, 272, 276-282
"Christian Science Monitor", 275-276
Christian Scientists, number of, 280-
"Christianismi Restitutio", 60-62, 63
Christians (early), 10-14
Church of England, 105-124, 126-128,
Church of England, government, 120
Church of England, holy days, 121
Church of England, membership, 121
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints, 251, 258-266
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints, beliefs, 262-263
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints, membership, 258-259
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints, organization, 261
Church of the Pilgrims (Plymouth) ,
Circuit riders, 207-208
"City of God" (Calvin's Geneva),
Colby College, 170
College of New Jersey, 54
Colleges, Baptist, 170
Colleges, Congregational, 141-143
Colleges, Disciples', 240
Colleges, Episcopal, 124
Colleges, Friends, 190
Colleges, Jesuit, 88
Colleges, Lutheran, 36
Colleges, Methodist, 212-213
Colleges, Mormon, 264
Colleges, Presbyterian, 54
Colleges, United Church of Canada,
Colleges, Universalist, 226
Colorado College, 142
Columbia University, 124
Columbus, Christopher, 55, 75
Commonwealth (in England), 48, 145
Communion, 43-44, 95-96, 113, 122
Communion, close, 166
Company of Jesus, 75, 82-88
Confession of Faith (Calvin), 42
Confession (Roman Catholic), 96, 97
Congregational Church in America,
Congregational Church in England,
Congregational Christian Church, 140
Congregational General Association of
Congregational Methodists, 140
Congregationalists, 51, 135-143
Congregationalists, number of, 140
Congregationalists, (United Church of
Conscientious objectors, 190
Constantine, Emperor, 12
Constantinople, Bishop of, 14
Constantinople, patriarch of, 103
Cook, John, 288
Cooper, Peter, 72
Cop, Nicholas, 38
Cornell, Ezra, 72
Council Bluffs, 256
Council of Bishops, Methodist, 209
Council of Constance, 24
"Council of the Vicinage", 141
"Counselors", (Mormon officials), 262
Counter Reformation, 87
Cowdry, Oliver, 251
Cranmer, Thomas, 105-118
Cromwell, Oliver, 48, 145, 154, 179-180
Crucifixion of Jesus, 1, 7
Crusade for Children, 169
Cumorah hill, 247-248
David, Francis, 64, 69
David, King, 6
Day of Atonement, 298
Day of Judgment, 8, 17, 298
Dayton, Tenn., 168
"De Trinitatis Erroribus Libri
Declaration of Independence (Uni-
tarian) , 66
Depauw University, 213
Deseret News, 261
Dewey, Admiral, 124
Disciples of Christ, 234-244
Disciples of Christ, beliefs, 242"
Disciples of Christ, government, 242
Disciples, number of, 242-243
Dix, Dorothea, 72
Doane College, 141
Drake University, 240
Duchess of Loyola, 75
Duke of Loyola, 75
Duke University, 213
Dyer, Mary, 184
Eastern Catholic Church, 14, 104
Eastern Orthodox Church, 99404
Eck, John, 22-24, 26
Ecumenical Councils, 90
Eddy, Asa, 274
Eddy, Mary Baker, 267-277
Eden, Garden of, 4-5, 9
Edward VI, King, 111-114
Eighteenth Amendment, 212
Einstein, Albert, 302
Eire, Republic of, 50
Elders, 126, 134
Election (to heaven), 28
Eliot, Charles W., 72
Eliot, John, 142
Elizabeth, Queen, 48, 114, 126
Elstow, 146, 150
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 72
The Church Across the Street
Endicott, Governor, 184
Episcopal Churches, 50-51, 119, 123-
Episcopal Church, membership, 119
Episcopal Church of Scotland, 120
Episcopalians, 33, 119-124
Ep worth, 195
Estates of Holy Roman Empire, 25
Europe, 9, 14, 30, 48, 69
Evangelical Protestants, 140
Evangelical and Reformed Church,
Eve, 4-5, 9
Excommunication, 14, 24, 63, 110
Extreme Unction, 97
"Faith" (religious), 15, 28, 56-57, 59
Farel, William, 40, 46, 60, 63
Feast of Tabernacles, 300
Fell, Margaret, 182-183
Fellowships, Unitarian and
Fenny, Dray ton, 171, 173
Ferdinand, King, 55-56, 105
Fifth Great Age of Time, 6
First-day meetings, Friends, 185
First-day Schools, 176
First Church of Christ, Scientist, 278
First Great Age of Time, 4-5
First Great Crisis, 10-12
First Independent Church of Balti-
"Flowers of the Saints", 76
Fordham University, 88
Fosdick, Harry Emerson, 166, 168
Fourth Great Age of Time, 6
Fox, George, 171-183
France, 38, 48, 57
Franciscan monks, 80
Franklin and Marshall College, 142
Frederick, Elector, 27
"Free Spirit", Unitarian belief, 71-72
Freedom, religiousrl2, 64, 69, 159-164,
Freeman, Rev. James, 66
Friends (Quakers), 174, 176-177, 183-
Friends, beliefs, 180, 184-185, 187-189
Friends, number of, 187
Friends, organization, 187
Friends, Service Committee, 189-190
Fry, Elizabeth, 187, 190
Galatia, 1 1
Gambier, Ohio, 124
Geneva, N.Y., 124
Geneva, Switzerland, 40-48, 60, 62-64
Gentiles, 12, 252
Germany, 16-31, 33, 48, 165, 304
Gettysburg College, 36
Gloucester, Mass., 219
Glover, Mr., 268
Glover, Mary Baker (see Mary Baker
God's "Chosen people" (Mormon),
Golden Rose (papal decoration), 22
Goodwill Industries, 212
"Good Works", 27-28
Gotha, Forest of, 26-27
"Grace Abounding to the Greatest of
"Grace" (As used by Roman
Catholics) , 94
Great Salt Lake, 257
Greek Archdiocese of Eastern Ortho-
dox Church, 102
Greek Orthodox Church, 14, 100
Gunn, William T., 284, 292
Gurney, Richenda, 187
Hammarskjold, Dag, 32
Hampton Court, 133-134
Harris, Martin, 248
Harvard University, 54, 68
Haverford College, 190
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 72
Haystack Monument, 142
Healing (Christian Science), 276-277,
Heaven, 4-5, 7, 8, 9, 28
Hebrew University, 302
Heidelberg College, 142
Henry VIII, 105-111
Herzl, Theodore, 303
Hicks, Elias, 188
"High Church" (Episcopal), 122
Hillel, Rabbi, 1
Hingham, Mass., 68
Hitler, Adolph, 303-304
Hobart College, 124
Holidays, Jewish, 298-300
Hollimari, Ezekiel, 162
Holy Catholic Church, schism in, 14
Holy Club, 192-193, 195, 201
Holy Cross College, 92
Holy Orders, 94
Honesty, Friends' views on, 176-177
Hospitals, Baptist, 170
Hospitals, Jewish, 302
Hospitals, Methodist, 205, 212
Hospitals, Presbyterian, 53
Hospitals, Roman Catholic, 92
Hospitals, United Church of Canada,
House of Bishops (Episcopal), 121
Howe, Julia Ward, 72
Huntington College, 291
Hus, John, 22-24
Hymns (Martin Luther's), 28
"Hymns of the Spirit", 227
Ikons, 14, 102
Immanuel Movement, 280
Indians, American, 53, 182, 190, 197,
Indians, New England, 142, 160
Indulgence, 16-19, 20, 21, 22, 27
Infallibility of Pope, 13, 90
"Inner Light", 174, 180, 184, 188-189
Inquisition, 55-56, 62, 82
"Institutes of the Christian Religion"
(Calvin's), 39-40, 44
Intercession (of saints), 98
Isabella, Queen, 55-56, 75, 105
Israel, State of, 302-303
James, Epistle of, 246
James I, King, 50, 132-133, 134
James II, King, 50
Jefferson, Thomas, 72
Jericho, L. L, 188
Jerusalem, 1, 6, 100, 293-294
Jesuits, 69, 85-88, 92
Jesus, 1-4, 7-8, 9, 10-11, 14, 57, 89, 188
Jews, 1,2, 10-12, 55-56, 293-304
Jews, number of, 302
Jews, (persecution of) , 302-304
Jews and Christianity, 10-12, 168, 295-
Judaism, Conservative, 298, 300, 301
Judaism, Orthodox, 298, 300, 301
Judaism, Reform, 298, 301
Judson, Adoniram, 169
Jiiterbog, 16, 19
Kennedy, Richard, 272-274
Kenyon College, 124
Keys (of heaven and hell), 20, 89
King's Chapel, 66
Kirtland, Ohio, 252
Knox, John, 48-50
Lamoni, Iowa, 251
"Last Will and Testament of Spring-
field Presbytery", 236-237
Latimer, Bishop, 114
Laud, William, 135
Laurentian University, 291
Law, Mosaic, 11,295
"Laying on of hands", 120, 127
Leipzig University, 22
Leipzig, debate of Luther and Eck in,
LeMoyne College, 88
Leo X, Pope, 21-22, 24
Libertines, 40, 42
"Liberty Clause" (Universalist), 224-
Lincoln, Abraham, 71-72
The Church Across the Street
Lincoln College, 195
Liquor, Methodist view on, 205, 212
Log College, 54
Longfellow, Henry W., 72
Lord's Supper, 42-44, 95, 133, 166
Lost Tribes of Israel, 251
Lourdes, Shrine of, 280
"Low Church" (Episcopal), 122
Lowell, James Russell, 72
Loyola, Ignatius, 75-88
Loyola University (Chicago), 92
Luther, Martin, 16-31, 59, 110
Lutherans, 3 1-36
Lutherans, beliefs, 34-35
Lutherans, kinds of, 34
Lutherans, number of, 33, 34
Lutherans, organization, 35
Lynn, Mass., 271
Maccabaeus, Judas, 300
Manchester, N.Y., 244
Mann, Horace, 72
Marquette University, 88
Marriage, Roman Catholic views on,
Martyrs, Mormon, 253
Mary, Queen, 114-118
Mary, Queen of Scots, 132
Mass, 95-96, 122
Massachusetts Bay Colony, 132, 135
Massachusetts Metaphysical College,
Mather, Rev. Cotton, 138, 160
Matthew (Gospel of), 89
Mayflower Compact, 66
Meadville Theological School, 73
Meeting House (Quaker), 180, 185-187
Meetinghouse, New England, 136-139
Mergers, Congregationalists, 140
Mergers, Lutheran, 34
Mergers, Presbyterian, 52-53
Mergers, Unitarian-Universalist, 70,
"Methodist Discipline", 209-210
Methodists, 192-193, 202-204, 206-213
Methodists, beliefs, 207
Methodists, divisions of, 210-211
Methodists, foreign missionary work,
Methodists, number of, 21 1
Methodists, organization, 207-209
Millenary Petition, 133-134
Millennial Harbinger, 240
Millikan, Robert, 72
Miracles (as test for sainthood) , 98
Missionary Work, 8, 53, 103, 142, 168-
Missionaries, Presbyterian, 53
Missouri Synod (of Lutherans), 35
Modern Crusade for Christ, 168-169
Mohammedans (persecution of), 55-56
Monarchy, spiritual, 10-15
Montaigu College, 81
Morgan Memorial Methodist Church,
Mormon, 247-248, 250
Mormon, Book of, 247-251
Mormon Church (see Church of Lat-
Moroni, 247-248, 250
Morse, Dr. Jedediah, 68
Morse, Samuel, 68
Mt. Allison University, 291
Mt. Sinai Hospital, 302
Muhlenberg, Henry Melchior, 31-32
Muhlenberg College, 36
Murray, John, 214-224
Narragansett Bay, 161-162
National Baptist Convention of
National Council of Churches of
Christ in America, 227
Navajo Indians, 73
Nazi concentration camps, 32, 302
Negroes, 36, 53,. 142-143, 190
New Brunswick, 284
New Year, Jewish, 298
New York University, 72
Newton, Isaac, 276-277
Newton, Mass., 161
Nicaea, Council of, 13
Nicene Creed, 13,89
Ninety-five Theses of Luther, 19-20
Niemoeller, Pastor Martin, 32
Noah, Mordeccie M., 303
Non-conformists, 126, 154
Non-resistance, Quaker, 177-180
North Central College, 142
Northumberland, Penn., 66
Northwestern University, 213
Norwich, 127, 128
Notre Dame University, 92
Noyon, 38, 40
Oath taking, Friends' views on, 175-176
Oglethorpe, James, 196
Ohio Wesleyan University, 213
Oil (consecrated), 95, 97
Old Catholic Church, 90, 99
Ontario Ladies' College, 291
Ordination (see also holy orders), 94
"Original Sin", 9, 94
Osborne, Thomas Mott, 225
Ouse River, 145, 154
Oxford, Mass., 21 9-220
Oxford University, 106-107, 109
Pacifists, 177-180, 189-190
Palmyra, N. Y., 247-248
Parochial schools, Catholic, 91-92
Parochial schools, Lutheran, 36
Parochial schools, Mormon, 266
Patriarchs, 90, 103
Patterson, Dr., 268-269, 271-272
Patterson, Mary Baker (see Mary
Paul, 1,2, 11
Peabody, Elizabeth, 72
Penance, 28, 97
Penn, William, 166, 182-184, 190
Pennsylvania, 32, 33, 54, 166, 184
Philadelphia Confession of Faith, 238
Pidgeon, George C., 284, 288
Pidgeon, Leslie, 288
Pike, Bishop, 123
Pilgrims, 129-132, 135, 136
"Pilgrim's Progress", 156
"Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven", 151
Polygamy (Mormon) , 252, 259
Pope (Roman Pontiff), 13-14, 16, 20,
58, 89-90, 92-93
Pope (Eastern Orthodox priest), 103
Portland, Maine, 270
Potter, Mr., 218
"Practice of Piety", 151
Predestination, 39, 41, 65, 165, 216-217
Presbyterian Church in U.S., 48, 52-54
Presbyterians, beliefs of, 51-52
Presbyterians, founding of, 47-50
Presbyterians, organization of, 50-51
Presbyterians, varieties in U. S., 52-53
Priestley, Dr. Joseph, 66
Princeton University, 54
Protestant Reformation, 16-31, 37-47,
Protestants, 14-15, 56, 64, 88-89
Providence, R. L, 162
Purgatory, 17, 20, 28, 122
Puritanism, 51-52, 125-126, 132-139
Puritans, New England, 54, 132-139,
Quakers (see Friends)
Quimby, Phineas, 270-271
Quintana, Juan de, 58
Rabbinical schools, 294-295
Redstone Baptist Association, 233
Revelation, Book of, 4
Revolution, American, 66, 119
Revolution, French, 69
The Church Across the Street
Ridley, Bishop, 114
Ri^don, Sidney, 242
Riverside Church, New York, 166
Robinson, John, 70, 129-130
Roman Catholic Church, 13-15, 28, 87,
Roman Catholics, number of, 98-99
Roman Empire, 11, 12, 13, 30
Romans, antagonism of, 11-12
Romans, Epistle to (Luther's preface),
Rome, 21, 58
Roxbury, Mass., 142
Russian Orthodox Church, 100-103
Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic
Sacraments (Roman Catholic), 94-97
Saints, 97-98, 122
Salt Lake City, 258-261, 264
Salvation, Old Story of, 1-10, 15, 149-
Salvation (how earned), 27-28
Savannah, Ga., 197
Savior, 7, 8, 11
Saxony, Elector of, 21, 22, 30
Schools, Episcopal, 124
Schools, Jewish, 301 -302
Schweitzer, Albert, 73
"Science and Health", 274-275
Scopes, John T., 168
Scotland, 48, 50, 54
Scotland, State Church of, 50, 52
Scott, Walter, 237-238
Scriptures, 41, 52, 57, 167
Seabury, Samuel, 120
Second Great Age of Time, 5
Second great crisis, 12
Separatists, 132, 138
Servetus, Michael, 55-64, 69
Seven Great Ages of Time, 4-8
Seventh-day Adventists, 264
Sewanee, Tenn., 124
Sigismund, King, 64
Simons, Menno, 166
Sin, mortal, 95, 97
Sistine Chapel, 93
Sixth Great Age of Time, 6-7
Skelton, Rev., 160
Slavery, Methodist view on, 205, 211
Slavery, Universalist opposition to, 68,
Smith, Hyrum, 251, 253
Smith, Joseph F., 245
Smith, Samuel, 251
Society of Jesus, 85-88
Son of God, 4, 7-8, 57, 89
Southern Baptist Convention, 167
Sparks, Jared, 65
"Spiritual Exercises" (of Loyola) , 80,
Springfield Presbytery, 236
St. Anne de Beaupre, shrine of, 98, 280
St. James, Church of in Geneva, 44
St. John's Church (Bedford), 154
St. Lawrence University, 226
St. Louis University, 88
St. Olaf's College, 36
Starr King Theological School, 73
Steinmetz, Charles, 72
Stephens, Mr., 173
Stone, Barton W., 234-237
Stuart Kings, 48
Suomi Synod of Lutherans, 34
Susquehanna University, 36
Swarthmore College, 190
Swarthmore Hall, 182
Synagogues, 295, 300-301
Syracuse University, 213
Tabernacle, Mormon in Salt Lake City,
Talladega College, 143
Temple, Mormon in Salt Lake City,
Temple, Mormon in Kirtland, Ohio,
Temple (Jerusalem), 1
Ten Commandments, 6, 160
Testament, New, 35, 41, 58
Testament, Old, 35, 41
Tetzel, Friar, 16-19,21
Texas Christian University, 240
Third Great Age of Time, 5-6
Third Reich, 304
Thirty-nine Articles of Faith, 122, 134
Thomas, Dr. John, 169
Thoreau, Henry, 72
Tilton, Mrs., 269
Tithing, Mormon doctrine, 252, 261
Tithing houses, 261
Tithing man, 136-138
Torah, 11, 295, 300-301
Tougaloo Southern Christian College
Transylvania, Unitarians in, 64, 69
"Treatise on the Atonement", 223
Trinity, 56-57, 59, 64-66, 70, 222
Tufts University, 226
Twelve Articles (of peasants' charter),
Twisden, Judge, 145
Tyndale, William, 109, 111
Unitarian Service Committee, Inc., 73
Unitarian Universalist Association, 70
Unitarians, 70-74, 226-227
United Church of Canada, 283-292
United Church of Canada, beliefs, 291
United Church of Canada, govern-
United Church of Canada, member-
United Church of Christ, 140
United Church Board for Homeland
United College, 291
United Nations, 32
Universalists, number of, 70, 225
Universalists, Statement of Faith, 224-
University of Glasgow, 230
University of Paris, 37, 38, 81
University of Richmond, 170
University of the South, 124
University of Southern California, 213
University of Toulouse, 57
University of Wittenberg, 19, 20, 21,
Utah State University, 264
Vanderbilt University, 213
Vatican City, 92-93
Vatican Council, 90
Venerable Company, 44
Vicar of Christ (sec Pope)
Victoria University, 291
Villeneuve, Michael de (see Servetus)
Virgin birth of Jesus, 7, 9, 168
Vladimir, Czar, 100
Walther League, 35
Ware, Rev. Henry, 68
Washington, George, 119
Wesley, Charles, 193, 201
Wesley, John, 192-206
Wesley, Samuel, 193-195
Wesley, Susanna, 193-195
Wesleyan University, 213
Westminster Abbey, 51
Westminster Catechism, Shorter, 52
Westminster Confession, 51-52, 234
Westminster Hall, 284
Whitefield, George, 201
Whitmer, David, 251
Whitmer, Peter, 251
Wilberforce, William, 205
Williams College, 142
Williams, Roger, 159-164
Wilson, Woodrow, 124
Wine (communion), 42-44, 95-96, 133
Winslow, Governor, 129
Winthrop, John, 161
Wittenberg, 19, 20, 21, 24, 36
Woodstock, N.Y., 90
World Council of Churches, 227
Worms, 24-26, 37, 110
Worms, Diet of, 24-27
318 The Church Across the Street
Worms, trial of Luther in, 25-26 Young, Owen D., 225
Wycliffe, John, 108409
Zakhai, Jochanan ben, 294
Xavier, Francis, 86 Zionist Movement, 303
"Zion's Cooperative Mercantile
Yale University, 54 Institution", 260
Young, Brigham, 253-258, 261 Zurich, Switzerland, 162
REGINALD D. MANWELL brings to
the writing of this book the unusual ability
to view religion openly and objectively, for
he has had long 1 experience in the scientific-
field. He has served on the editorial boards
of three scientific journals; in addition, he
has written several books and 130 articles
dealing with the biological sciences and par-
ticularly with malaria.
Dr. Manwell has been deeply involved in
church school teaching for more than 35
years; in his early career, he was a high
school teacher and principal. He has been
Professor of Zoology at Syracuse University
SOPHIA LYQN FAHS is widely known
for her pioneering work in the field of reli-
gious education. She received a 33.D. degree
from Union Theological Seminary and
taught religious education there for seven-
Mrs. Fahs is the author of many magazine
articles and such outstanding books as To-
day's Children and Yesterday's Heritage,
From Long Ago and Many Lands and Jems;
The Carpenter's tion.
In 1050, she was ordained into the Unitar-
ian ministry, in recognition of her lifetime
service to religious education. She is cur-
rently Curriculum Consultant in the Depurt-
nsoiil of Education of the Unitarian Univor-